By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Judicial Council (JC) is back in operation with five members under the updated Judicial Council ordinance approved in April of this year.
Previously, under the old ordinance, it consisted of three members. The JC was out of service for a few months while the Fort Hall Business Council appointed new members. Now that they’re back in operation, JC members have a backlog of complaints and issues to deal with.
Diana Yupe is the chairperson, along with members Clyde Hall, Howard Doore, Corinne Pocatilla, vice-chairperson and Julie Anderson, secretary.
The JC wants to make it clear what their responsibilities are.
Under the JC ordinance they do the following:
• Protect the political integrity and economic security of the Tribes.
• Protect the peace, health, safety and general welfare of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation inhabitants.
• Preserve and protect the customs, traditions, culture and way of life of the Tribes.
• Hold Tribal Court judges to high standards of conduct in the performance of their duties.
• Promote supervision of judges that brings honor to the Tribes, the office of judge and Tribal Court.
• Ensure that those who perform the duties of a tribal judge in Tribal Court are adequately educated, qualified and trained to apply the law equally and fairly and in a timely manger to all people regardless of race, age, ethnicity or tribal affiliation.
• Ensure hiring and supervision of judges, their behavior and performance of their duties, training, education and discipline is up to and including dismissal should be performed by a neutral and unbiased body.
The JC members each serve three-year terms on a staggered basis. Preference is given to Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Bar Association members who are not currently practicing in the Tribal Court or be a business partner or employee of theirs be actively practicing in Tribal Court. They meet weekly on Tuesday and Thursdays at 1 p.m.
JC member Anderson said they want to let people know they can’t overturn a judge’s orders, “We are not a court of appeals — we are just over the judges.” The case must have a final order.
Once a complaint is received, the JC reviews them to determine whether it warrants an investigation. The ordinance spells out the process for judges and the JC to follow.
The JC is required to records minutes of their meetings and are maintained in the tribal attorney’s office separate from all other files.
A Code of Judicial Conduct is also attached to the ordinance that includes five rules: 1. Uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary. 2. Avoid impropriety and appearance of it in all judge’s activities. 3. Perform the duties of the judicial office impartially and diligently. 4. Conduct the judge’s extra-judicial duties to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial obligations. 5. Refrain from inappropriate political activity.
Yupe said the purpose of the JC is to establish a non-biased board that is a separation of power from the Tribal Council and it has worked.