Resolution No. 340-89

Subject: Tribal Court Ordinance Adoption

WHEREAS, the Grand Ronde Tribal Council pursuant to Article III, Section 1, of the Tribal Constitution approved November 30.t 1984, by the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, is empowered to exercise all tribal -legislative and executive authority not specifically vested in the General Council of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community; and,

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, Article IV, mandates the establishment of a Tribal Court by Tribal Ordinance; and,

WHEREAS, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon Tribal Court is empowered by it's Tribal Constitution and other Tribal Ordinances pertaining to the Tribal Court to exercise it's authority; and,

WHEREAS, children of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon are currently placed by State court judges who lack knowledge of the history and customs of the Tribes and the Grand Ronde Tribal members wish these placements to be done by our Tribal Court.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Grand Ronde, Tribal Council approves the Tribal Court Ordinance for establishment of a Tribal Court.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Tribal Council will contract for an interim judge knowledgeable in Federal and Indian law, on a part-time, case by case basis as needed.

CERTIFICATION: the Tribal Council for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon passed this resolution at a regularly scheduled meeting with a quorum present as required by the Grand Ronde Tribal Constitution, held on April 12, 1989 by a vote of 6 yes, 0 no, and 0 abstentions.


Mark Mercier, Tribal Chairman


Kathryn Harrison, Council Secretary

April 12, 1989


DATE AMENDED: 9/8/93;10/5/94

SUBJECT: Tribal Court

RESOLUTION #: 340-89;062-93;066-94



(a) Authority and Purpose

(b) Definitions

(c) Establishment of Court & Peace Making Panel

(d) Jurisdiction and Powers

(e) Judges

(f) Court Clerk

(g) Choice of Law

(h) Appeals

(i) Appearances

(j) Records

(k) Peacemaking Panel


(a) AUTHORITY AND PURPOSE: The purpose of this ordinance is to provide for the administration of law and justice by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde through establishment of a Tribal Court system as required by Article IV of the Grand Ronde Constitution.

Through establishment of the Court, the Tribe pledges to preserve cultural and tribal identity, to protect and wisely develop common tribal resources, to maintain peace and order, and to safeguard individual rights.


(1) "Counsel" means any person admitted to a bar of any state.

(2) "Immediate Family" means a person's natural father, natural mother, adoptive mother, adoptive father, daughter, son, spouse, person in a spousal relationship, brother, sister, stepbrother, and stepsister.

(3) "Peacemaker" means a mediator who is a tribal member appointed to the Peacemaker Panel by the Chief Judge of the Tribal Court.

(4) "Spokesperson" means any person not admitted to a bar of any state who is a tribal member or relative of a party and speaks for a party to a case in the Tribal Court.

(5) "Tribal Council" or "Council" means the Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.

(6) "Tribal Court" or "Court" means the court of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon unless the context indicates that another tribe's court is intended.

(7) "Tribe" means the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.


(1) By this Ordinance, at the direction of the Grand Ronde constitution, there is established for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde a Court to be known as the Grand Ronde Tribal Court. The Court shall be empowered to exercise judicial authority of the Tribe as delegated herein and shall consist of a Trial Court, made up of one Chief Judge and such associate judges as the Tribal Council may appoint. The Trial Court is empowered to create such specialized divisions as necessary to hear matters as defined in the Tribe's Ordinances.

(2) In addition to the Tribal Court there may be established a Peacemaking Panel and a Court of Appeals.

(A) The Peace Making Panel may be used, at the request of the parties and with the approval of the Court, to mediate disputes between parties before entering Tribal Court. The Peace Making Panel shall be authorized by the ordinance governing the particular dispute. Parties uti- lizing the Peace Making Panel are not precluded from entering the Court should the dispute resolution prove unsuccessful.

(B) The Court of Appeals shall consist of a judge or judges not to include the judge who handled the matter at the trial level.


(1) Civil Jurisdiction.

(A) Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The Court shall have civil jurisdiction over the following matters: child custody proceedings; appeals from denials of hunting, fishing, or gathering privileges by the Fish and Wildlife Committee, appeals from appealable decisions of the Education Committee, appeals from decisions of peace makers and issues delegated to the court by Ordinance. The Court may decline to exercise its jurisdiction if it finds any of the following exists:

1. another court has the jurisdiction to heat the case and would be more convenient for 'the parties or the Court:

2. one or more of the parties is not a person over which the Court can exercise its authority; or

3. the case is of such a nature that the Court should not hear it.

(B) Territorial Jurisdiction: The Court shall exercise civil jurisdiction as stated in subsection (a) within its six-county service area which includes Multnomah, Tilla- mook, Yamhill, Polk, Marion, and Washington Counties.

(C) Personal Jurisdiction: The scope of the Court's civil jurisdiction in its service area shall extend to individuals whose conduct threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security, or the health and welfare of the Tribe. The Court's jurisdiction over such individuals includes but is not limited to:

1. tribal members;

2. anyone the Tribe formally recognizes as Indian;

3. other Indians;

4. anyone who consents to Court jurisdiction;

5. other individuals or entities whose conduct affects the Tribe adversely.

(D) Concurrent Jurisdiction: The Council recognizes that Public Law 83-280 granted concurrent jurisdiction to the State over some criminal and civil matters. The Court shall exercise its jurisdiction in all areas to the extent delegated by tribal ordinance.

(2) Powers: The Court is granted all the powers necessary to exercise its jurisdiction in accordance with the procedures set forth in this Ordinance. Additionally, the Court may exer- cise its jurisdiction in accordance with any suitable procedures where specific procedures are not set forth in this Ordinance, so long as such procedures are in accordance with the Tribal Constitution and Laws.

(3) Full Faith and Credit: The Court shall give full faith and credit to the orders and judgments of the courts of other tribes, states, and local governments unless:

(A) the court in question does not recognize the orders and judgments of the Tribal Court;

(B) the Court in question did not have jurisdiction over the case or a party or parties to it;

(C) the order or judgment was based on fraud;

(D) to do so would violate the public policy of the Tribe or would be likely to harm the culture, traditions, or sovereignty of the Tribe; or

(E) The order or judgment is on appeal or being contested in another jurisdiction.


(1) Qualifications

(A) Chief Judge shall be at least 25 years of age with a bachelor's degree; the equivalent of one year Tribal Court training; a minimum of two (2) years experience practicing in Tribal Court; and demonstrable knowledge of Indian law, federal law, and Oregon law.

(B) Associate Judge shall be at least 25 years of age with a high school diploma or equivalent, a minimum of three (3) years experience with tribal government and tribal courts.

(C) No person shall serve as Judge of the Court who has been convicted of a felony or a crime involving dis- honesty within the last three years. No person shall serve as a Judge of the Court until a bond has been posted, at tribal expense, in an amount determined by the Council or until covered by blanket bond provided for all tribal employees. No person shall serve as a Judge of the Court who holds any elective office of the Tribe.

(2) Appointment and Term of Service: After advertisement and interview by the Council, the Council will select the most qualified applicant. Preference will be given to Tribal members first and members of other tribes second. The terms of off ice will be two (2) years and will include a six (6) month probationary period.

(3) Duties

(A) Chief Judge: The Chief Judge shall:

1. promulgate, after consultation with the Tribal Attorney, procedural rules and standards for carrying out the Court's activities;

2. hear all matters delegated to the Court by ordinance;

3. develop and maintain a list of acting judges to be called upon to hear cases in the event of dis- qualification of a judge or as otherwise necessary. The list shall 'contain as many qualified acting judges as the Chief Judge deems appropriate.

4. develop and maintain, with the assistance of the Court Clerk and the Court Administrator, a system for recordkeeping and a docket system;

5. maintain current copies of tribal, federal, and state laws applicable to proceedings coming before the Court;

6. prepare the Court's annual plan and budget;

7. issue receipts for any monies collected or paid by the Tribal Court;

8. deposit all receipts into the Tribal account- ing system earmarked f or inclusion in the Tribal Court's annual,.plan and budget;

9. supervise and coordinate training of Court personnel and peacemakers.

(B) Associate Judge will be responsible for hearing all cases as assigned by the Chief Judge and other duties as assigned by the Chief Judge.

(4) Removal: During the tenure of his or her appointment, any Judge may be suspended, dismissed, or removed for cause by the Council by a vote of at least five members.

(A) The Tribal Chairman or his/her designate shall make available copies of a written statement stating the facts and reasons for the proposed action to the Judge in question, other Judges, and members of the Council. This notice shall be given at least 14 calendar days before the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Council.

(B) That meeting shall include a public hearing where the accused Judge shall be given adequate opportunity to answer all charges, including the right to bring witnesses. Causes deemed sufficient for such action shall include but not be limited to:

1. excessive use of intoxicants,

2. conviction of any offense other than minor traffic violations and other infractions,

3. use of official position for personal gain, or failure to perform judicial duties adequately and according to the terms of this ordinance.

The decision of the Council shall be final.

(5) Disqualification:

(A) Conflict of Interest: No Judge shall be qualified to act as such in any case where she/he has any direct interest, or where any party involved in the case is a relative by marriage or blood in the first or second degree. A Judge may be disqualified upon his/her own motion or by application by any party in the proceeding upon filing a verified written motion.

(B) Bias or Prejudice: Upon the filing of an affidavit by a party setting forth facts establishing that by reason of bias or prejudice of the Judge to whom the case is assigned the party cannot have a fair trial, the Judge shall disqualify himself/herself - Such affidavit shall be filed five days prior to trial.

(6) Acting Judges: In the event that there is no qualified Judge or there are an insufficient number of Judges available to hear a particular case, the Chief Judge shall appoint the Acting Judge or Judges selected by random drawing from the Temporary Judge list, with the full powers of a regularly appointed Tribal Judge to hear and dispose of the case. The qualifications for Temporary Judges must meet the minimum qualification of Associate Judges. Such appointment shall be only for the period of time necessary to dispose of the case in question, and shall not be used to avoid giving full tenure to a regularly appointed Tribal Judge.

(7) Compensation: Compensation for the Chief Judge and Acting Judges shall be determined separately under the Tribal Court contract with and through the Bureau of Indian Affairs subject to availability of funds.


(1) Appointment: The Court Clerk shall be hired as provided by Tribal Personnel Policy.

(2) Qualifications: The Court Clerk shall have a high school diploma or equivalent; minimum two years experience as a paid secretary or Clerk; be eligible to become a registered notary; shall not have a felony conviction or convicted of any other crime involving dishonesty within the last 3 years. There shall be Tribal preference in hiring tribal members first, and members of other tribes second. There will be a six-month probationary period.

(3) Duties: The Court Clerk shall:

(A) assist the Court, Tribal Police,, residents of the Indian Community, and tribal members in drafting com- plaints, summons', warrants, and other documents as required;

(B) attend all sessions of the Tribal Court,

(C) keep records of all Tribal Court proceedings;

(D) administer oaths to witnesses;

(E) issue receipts for monies collected or paid by the Tribal Court;

(F) deposit all receipts into the Tribal accounting system earmarked for inclusion in the Court's annual plan and budget;

(G) account for all monies handled through the Court.

(4) Bond: The clerk shall be bonded, at Tribal expense, in an amount determined by the Tribal Court.

(5) Seal: The Court Clerk shall have an official seal which shall be impressed upon the original of each complaint or other paper filed with the Court, along with a notation of the day and time of filing.


(1) When choosing what law applies, the Court shall apply the law of the Tribe except to the extent that federal law governs. In construing and applying tribal ordinances the Court shall consider ordinances first and secondly, tribal case law.

(2) To the extent no law of the Tribe is applicable the Court shall consider and, if appropriate, apply customs and traditions of the Tribe as they are relevant to the controversy. Thereafter, the court shall apply federal law in ruling on questions of procedure, and Oregon law on questions of substance.

(3) The Court may consider the laws of other Indian Tribes so far as they illuminate or codify Tribal customs and traditions.


(1) Court of Appeals: The Council may establish a Court of Appeals by Ordinance.

(2) Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeals shall have jurisdiction to review final orders, commitments, and judgments of the Court. On appeal, the record and decision of the Trial Court shall be reviewed for error. The Court of Appeals may affirm, modify, or reverse any judgment, decree, or order of the Trial Court; remand the case and order of new trial; direct the entry of an appropriate judgment, decree or order; require such other action of further proceedings as may be just in the circumstance. A decision must be by majority of the judges hearing the appeal.

(3) Right to Appeal: Any party aggrieved by any final order, commitment, or judgment of the Court may appeal.

(4) Notice of Appeal: Within ten (10) days from the entry of the judgment or order appealed from, the aggrieved party must file a written notice of appeal with the Court. No extension of the 10 day period shall be granted. On request, the Court Clerk shall prepare the Notice of Appeal. Bond or assurance must be posted in accordance with Section (h) (4) and f iling fees, required by Court Rules, must be paid for the filing of the notice to be effective.

(5) Bond: Upon filing a Notice of Appeal, the appellant must post bond, deposit cash, or give other assurance as will in the judgment of the trial court judges give adequate assurance of performance of judgment, or payment of fine or judgment in the event the case appealed is affirmed. The Trial Court Judge may waive bond if it would be hardship to appellant.

(6) Stay of Enforcement: In any case where a party has perfected his/her right to appeal in accordance with the rules set forth in this Ordinance by the Court, the final order, commitment, or judgment of the Court shall be stayed pending the appeal.

(7) Appellate Procedure: Within thirty (30) days of the date of the written Notice of Appeal is filed, the Court of Appeals shall convene to hear the case at such place as may be designated. Court procedures shall be the same as in cases held before the Tribal Court, except there shall be no jury trials. The Tribal Court may supplement the Rules of court as applied to the Court of Appeals as deemed necessary.

(8) Finality: (A) The decision of the Court of Appeals shall be final. (B) Until a Court of Appeals is authorized by Ordinance, the Council may exercise the authority to bring in Judges to hear appeals from the Court.


(1) Counsel or Spokesperson:

(A) Counsel: Any party has a right to assistance of counsel at the party's expense. Such assistance shall be arranged by the party. Counsel shall post a $150.00 bond one week prior to appearance. Said bond shall be subject to forfeiture for contempt of court.

(B) Spokesperson:

1. Any party has a right to assistance of a spokesperson at the party's expense. The Chief Judge shall establish procedures to license and regulate spokespersons.

2. The Court shall not appoint counsel or a spokesperson for any party at the Tribe's expense.

(2) Self-representation: Any individual party may appear and represent himself or herself in any proceeding before the Court. Judges of the Court shall insure that all parties have equal opportunity to present their case and cross-examine witnesses. Parties representing themselves shall not be held to the same strict standards of procedural conduct as are required of legal counsel.

(3) Witnesses:

(A) Summons to Appear: On motion by any party to the. case, or on the Court's own motion, the Court shall issue a summons to compel the attendance of witnesses, or the production of books, records, documents, paper and things necessary to the determination of ,the cause. Failure to comply with a summons shall constitute contempt of Court.

(B) Fees for Witnesses: Each party shall be responsible for his/her own witnesses. The Tribe shall pay witnesses summoned on its behalf at a rate established by the Court.


(1) Docket: The Court Clerk shall keep a docket which shall contain the names of each plaintiff and defendant in any civil proceeding, the type of proceeding, the date of issuance and the return date of any legal order or process issued in the proceeding, the appearance or default of parties summoned, the date and the amount of any judgment, any appeal, and all other proceedings and documents as directed by the Chief Judge. The Court docket shall be posted in a public place.

(2) Copies of proceedings: Any party may obtain a certified copy of proceedings in the Court at their own expense; the seal of the Court Clerk shall be applied to all copies so certified. The preceding shall not apply to matters or records sealed or expunged by the Court as permitted by this Ordinance or Federal law.

(3) Copies of Laws: The Court shall obtain copies of this Ordinance, copies of other tribal ordinances, federal, and state laws and regulations as are deemed by the Court to be necessary, helpful, and proper to secure the rights and privi- leges of persons subject to the jurisdiction of the Court and its judicial powers and responsibilities. Copies of same shall be available for review by tribal members.


(1) Purpose: The purpose. of the Peacemaking Panel is to provide a nonadversarial way to resolve disputes. The Panel is intended to reflect the Tribe's tradition of using respected members of the community to heal conflicts among its members.

(2) Appointment: The Chief Judge, with the consent of the Council, may appoint three or more peacemakers to carry out the duties and responsibilities set forth in this Ordinance.

(3) Qualifications: A Peacemakers shall be at least 25 years of age, a member of the Tribes, and known and respected in the community. No peacemaker shall serve if ever convicted of a misdemeanor involving violence or of a felony within the last 3 years.

(4) Duties: Peacemakers shall work to resolve disputes between family members, neighbors and others provided for by tribal ordinances. To do this, peacemakers shall, as needed, do the following:

(A) conduct informal conferences.

(B) insure in each conference that all relevant facts are presented and that all parties have an opportunity to speak, and

(C) encourage the parties to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all of them.

(D) attend training at Court expense as requested by the Chief Judge.

(5) Procedure:

(A) Any party to a dispute who wishes to have a peace- maker conference shall file a request for conferences with the Court Clerk. The request shall state the parties' names, addresses and telephone numbers, type of dispute, and the peacemakers desired, if any.

(B) A peacemaker shall then contact the parties to schedule a peacemaker conference and explain the basic rules of the conference. If a party after hearing said explanation, objects to holding a conference, the peace- maker shall not hold it. If parties do not agree on a peacemaker, the Chief Judge shall designate a peacemaker.

(C) If the non-moving party agrees to a conference, the peacemaker shall send written notice of it to the parties. The notice shall contain:

1. the names of the parties,

2. the date, time, and place of the conference

3. the allegations and a brief statement of the alleged facts on which it is based, and

4,. a brief description of how the peacemaker conference works.

5. if there is no agreement on a peacemaker among the parties, the Chief Judge shall designate Peacemaker.

(6) Representation: No party to a peacemaking conference may Joe represented by counsel. A party may only by represented by a spokesperson to the extent necessary for the party to under- stand the nature of the proceedings.

(7) Appeal: A party aggrieved by the decision of the peace- maker may appeal to the Court. The Court shall hear the case as if it were initiated in the Court, provided, however, that it shall take notice of the peacemaker's decision.

I hereby certify that this is a true copy of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon Tribal Court ordinance.

E.M. Larsen

Tribal Council Secretary