The Nooksack Court of Appeals ordered that attorneys for tribal members facing disenrollment be allowed to practice in Nooksack Tribal Court until they get a full and fair review of the tribe’s actions to disbar them and prevent them from practicing there.
The appeals court order was one of three victories issued Wednesday, Sept. 21, for attorneys of Seattle firm Galanda Broadman and their clients, roughly 300 Nooksack Indian Tribe members who refer to themselves as the Nooksack 306.
In one of Wednesday’s orders, the three-judge appeals court panel, contracted through a pool of lawyers from the Northwest Intertribal Court System, briefly laid out what has happened since attorneys Gabriel Galanda, Anthony Broadman and Ryan Dreveskracht first looked for relief after the tribal council disbarred the three without a hearing in February:
▪ “This court has already issued a mandatory injunction that the court clerk accept their pleadings and other filings. Moreover, when this order was ignored, we issued an order finding the court clerk in contempt.”
▪ “When this contempt was not corrected, we ordered the Police Chief to arrest the court clerk. When the Police Chief refused to enforce the Court’s order to arrest the court clerk, we held the Police Chief in contempt.”
▪ “Most recently, when the Police Chief failed to correct his contempt, we imposed significant monetary fines on him for each day that the contempt continues.”
“Notwithstanding our efforts,” the order continues, “the orders of this Court have been unlawfully ignored and the rule of law on the reservation, at least within the scope of this case, has completely broken down.”
Because the previous injunctions and contempt findings “proved of no assistance to the Plaintiffs under the current circumstances,” and the Nooksack Tribal Code allows the appeals court to take “action as the merits of the case and the interest of justice may require,” the panel ordered that pending a fair review of the attorneys’ claims their due process rights were infringed, the attorneys are reinstated as advocates admitted to practice before Nooksack Tribal Court.
In a separate order Wednesday, the panel ordered the Nooksack Tribe’s chief of police to pay $2,790.15 for attorney fees, basically compensating Galanda and Dreveskracht for their time spent researching one of the motions they made in the case.
“That time took away from the work petitioners could have spent earning their living representing clients, and the motion would not have been necessary if the Chief of Police had complied with our orders,” the order states.
The third order issued Wednesday held that another 17 people facing disenrollment could be protected from disenrollment action until a judge is appointed to preside over the case in the lower court. The ruling referenced a June 28 order granted to Michelle Roberts, who has served as a spokeswoman for the others facing disenrollment.
The tribe fired lower court Judge Susan Alexander in March, after she issued a ruling against the tribal council, and just as she was drafting a final decision on a request to compel tribal council elections that were supposed to have taken place in February and March but were never held.
Roberts had asked that the same protection from the June 28 order be afforded to all 272 plaintiffs in the case against tribal leadership, but the panel held in August that it needed a formal indication from the others that they wanted the same protection.
More people are likely to file and ask that the order apply to them.
Each order issued Wednesday was signed by a different member of the panel, which includes Chief Judge Eric Nielsen, and Associate Judges Douglas Nash and Gregory Silverman.