Havre Daily News
Rocky Boy Tribal Court Chief Judge Duane Gopher has pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence of an intoxicant and implied consent, a tribal court official said Monday.
Gopher is in the middle of a six-week administrative leave, tribal council chairman John "Chance" Houle said today. The leave is not associated with the charges, he said.
Gopher has been in Missoula studying for the state bar exam, said tribal lawyer Dan Belcourt, who has no connection with the criminal case against Gopher.
Tribal Court clerk Leota Standing Bear said Gopher was arraigned Friday on the charges in connection with a traffic stop made on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation last week. The implied consent charge is applied when someone refuses to take a breath test.
Gopher was retained as chief judge in March by the tribal council, which followed the recommendation of a judicial commission charged with reviewing the structure of the tribal courts. Voters approved a ballot initiative last year that gave the council the power to appoint judges, who had previously been elected.
Houle said the tribal council will not make a decision on Gopher's status until the matter has gone through the judicial process.
"In our eyes, he's innocent until proven guilty," Houle said. "The process has to work. We will see what happens."
Gopher could not be reached for comment today.