An update on President Fire Thunder and her fight for due process and civil rights in the Lakota court system after her impeachment by anti-abortion activists on her reservation. The first judge recused herself from the case and reversed her decision and a new judge and court date have yet to be assigned to the case. There are only two other judges on the reservation. And the judicial committee that will select the judge is made up of two tribal councilmembers, one of whom filed the impeachment complaint against Fire Thunder.
As you can see from all of this how politicized and incestuous the judicial process is in Indian Country. Will Fire Thunder find justice in such a system?
Battling for her day in tribal court, former Oglala Sioux Tribe president Cecelia Fire Thunder will take her case to the OST Supreme Court, she said Friday.The Rapid City Journal
On the day that Fire Thunder, 59, had been scheduled to appear in tribal court to challenge her removal as president, she announced that her lawyers will file suit next week in the tribe’s Supreme Court.
“This is about constitutional violations, procedural violations and strengthening our tribal courts,” said Fire Thunder, who believes that she is being denied due process in the lower court.
When tribal judge Lisa Adams recused herself from Fire Thunder’s case on July 17, proceedings were delayed to allow the OST Council to appoint a new judge. A new judge and court date has yet to be assigned, and Fire Thunder believes the delay has been too long.
“We’re aware that this is a stall tactic,” Fire Thunder said.
Valeria Apple, OST court administrator, said that a judge and hearing date had not been assigned as of Friday, but it might happen soon.
Apple said tribal council attorney Tom Blanco filed a motion to dismiss Fire Thunder’s case Friday.
Apple said it is up to the tribal council’s judiciary committee to appoint a judge.
She did say that the judiciary committee could appoint a judge for Fire Thunder’s hearing from its pool of two associate judges at Pine Ridge or possibly a judge from another reservation.
Calls from the Rapid City Journal to Blanco and to OST Councilman Garfield Steele of Manderson were not immediately returned Friday.
Steele, one of the two council representatives who filed the impeachment complaint against Fire Thunder, currently heads the judiciary committee, Apple said.
“It’s up to them to appoint the judge,” she said.
In removing the tribe’s first woman president from office, the tribal council cited Fire Thunder’s proposal to build a women’s health clinic on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. On tribal lands, the proposed clinic likely would have been beyond South Dakota’s jurisdiction of an abortion ban, passed by the Legislature but referred to a statewide vote in November.
The OST council ousted its 36th president June 29 by a vote of 9-5. On July 17, Fire Thunder was briefly reinstated before the tribal judge rescinded her own court order.
Here's a longer article from an anti-abortion point of view. I love how they call a Planned Parenthood clinic an "abortion business!" Umm, I don't think profit is the motive here . . .
South Dakota Pro-Abortion Indian Tribe President Files Impeachment Lawsuit