By Gilbert Belgarde Chief Judge Rocky Boy Tribal Court
ROCKY BOY As elected chief judge of the Chippewa Cree Reservation (2000-04) and previously elected (1996-00) - (1989-92), this law has people who violate this law/ordinance at least some people, there are defendants complaining to our two associate judges and myself. We wind up defending ourselves, sometimes to verbal phone calls that border on judicial interference and mild confrontations that could escalate to charges of criminal contempt of court. This is not a good thing, so what needs to be done is to explain the intent of the law, the penalties, and it is a tribal law that was passed. The judges, by oath of office, have to enforce all laws of this Indian reservation. This law in part reads:
General Provisions is to "deliver prompt and effective response to victims with fairness and compassion."
To provide safety and protection to victims and their children.
To utilize the criminal justice system in setting standards of behavior within the family system.
Impose consequences upon offenders for a domestic violence crime.
Provide opportunity for offenders to make positive changes in their behavior.
Prevention for future violence in all families through public education programs.
This actually sums up the intent, prevention, and the punishment aspect.
Definitions Section 102
1. Domestic Violence/Abuse means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts by family or household members, but it does not include acts of self-defense.
(a) Purposely or knowingly cause physical harm to another family member or household member, or negligently cause bodily injury to a family member with a weapon or engage in involuntary sexual activity by force or threat, coerce, or duress. Family members or household members include: 1. Spouses or former spouses, adults or minors who have dated or are involved in an ongoing intimate relationship regardless of their gender. 2. Persons who have a child in common, etc. 3. There are more in depth provisions i.e. classes, advocacy, shelter crisis intervention, support services, expertise of elders and the list goes on. Innovative approaches to help cope with domestic violence and implement named penalties and with solutions to eliminate abuse and violence.
What has the accused and defendants complaining is the punishment:
1. When an officer arrests the aggressor, the accused, a judgment call is made by the tribal police to arrest for domestic violence "code 2-97", immediately he/she is jailed for 72 hours. No bail, and you can't talk to a judge; however, defendants are allowed work release, but must return to the jail cell after work, until the 72 hours has passed.
2. The defendant must be arraigned and the law states judge shall sentence the offender if found guilty or pleads guilty to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine. Some discretion is open for a judge; he can suspend half of the sentence to "15 days jail time and further reduce that with a parole motion. A person can expect to sit in jail 7 1/2 days plus the 72 hours, which is dead time, but a cooling-off period. A second offense the 72 hours remain plus the judge by law is obligated to order 60 days in jail with a fine of $300 with the same judicial discretion of suspending half of the sentence.
This law has teeth and the judges are obligated to order the sentences mentioned. To show compassion, I included and ordered work release for jailed offenders. This could be walking a thin legal line. If the law is amended to prohibit this judicial discretion, it must be obeyed under our Chippewa Cree Tribal Constitution adopted by referendum vote 1935, under a federal law known as "the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934 and amended in 1935. The treaty or adoption by the U.S. Congress using Article 1, section 8, cl 3, The only place where Indians are mentioned. This has to be known as a treaty, because this is the only place where regulations can be made using the U.S. Constitution, where Indians are mentioned. To enact tribal laws under the IRA, we must use section 16 to amend any tribal laws. If I lost you, just remember we must go by constitutional law of Rocky Boy's Tribal Constitution and all Law & Order Codes and Ordinances.
The authority of the judicial branch of tribal government is Article XII in part, judges are to enforce ordinances and laws of the business committee, the election board and/or to administer justice through tribal court and establish an appellant body for tribal members who are aggrieved by decisions of the tribal court. "This appellant court was established with two elected associate judges and one appointed appellant judge by the chief judge by court rule, to hear appeals; the three appellant judges decide if a case is affirmed or overturned or returned for what legal reasons the appellant court finds, using our tribal constitution, precedents based on findings of fact and conclusions of law.
This is an abstract of the ordinance 2-97 Domestic Violence Code. Our tribal IRA constitution is similar in abbreviated version of the U.S. Constitution, consisting of three branches of government elected to the specific "distinct branches of government e.g. executive (chairman), legislative (Tribal Business Committee) judicial (chief judge, two associate judges.
Since 1993-94, we have been a self-governance tribal government and deal with the U.S.A. in a government to government relationship, cutting out the BIA as the middlemen. Any questions can be directed to the Tribal Chairman Alvin Windy Boy, the Tribal Attorney Dan Belcourt, or to myself, Chief Judge Gilbert Belgarde. I hope this has clarified some questions. The business committee makes the laws, and we the judicial branch enforces the laws under an oath of office. The judicial interprets the laws and make a decision and these decisions can be appealed for good cause or if laws are constitutional. We now have a business committee who recognizes there is a separation of powers. Every branch of government has their own elected responsibilities, but must follow our Tribal Constitution; we are prohibited to act beyond our legal authorities. This law I have presented in an abstract form is the law. This law was passed Nov. 6, 1997 by the Chippewa Cree Business Committee.