Havre Daily News
ROCKY BOY'S INDIAN RESERVATION - The Rocky Boy tribal council will hire an independent consultant to study the operations of tribal courts.
The proposed review comes on the tail of numerous changes in the structure of the court that are still being put into effect.
Tribal council members said during a meeting last week that they are getting complaints about the courts from community members.
"I'm sure most of you guys are getting calls and complaints with what's going on over there," said council member Jonathan Windy Boy, who heads the subcommittee that will seek requests for proposals to conduct the review.
"Boy, they're really stacking up," council chair John "Chance" Houle agreed.
Council members would not elaborate on the nature of the complaints.
In mid-March the council voted to give the tribe's judicial commission more control of the courts in order for the courts to function independently of the council. Since that time the commission has met regularly to work out the details.
At a tribal council meeting in July, the council approved a draft of a law that would put the courts completely under the control of the judicial commission.
"This will reduce any conflicts of interest between the tribal government" and the courts, commission member Bert Corcoran told the council.
The draft gave fiscal responsibility to the commission and allowed it to appoint judges, two provisions council members disagreed over and said would be revisited in a second draft.
"There's not a true separation there until you guys have fiscal responsibility," council member Brian "Kelly" Eagleman said.
Other council members said they were nervous about giving check-signing authority to the commission because the council would be responsible for any mismanagement. Windy Boy suggested the commission and council members co-sign checks.
Council member Raymond "Jake" Parker didn't think the commission should have the authority to appoint judges. He suggested the commission have hiring and firing authority over court employees, but not judges.
The tribal council gained the authority to appoint judges through a ballot measure approved in 2004. Previously, tribal judges were elected.
Windy Boy said complaints are not the only reason for the impending review. It's been 10 years since the last one.
Since the structure of the court has changed, "I wanted to bring the level of review up to date," he said.