I didn’t have to wait long on this question. The second article offers a little detail on the tribal judge’s ruling — of particular note was the ruling that the tribal treasurer could not be suspended because without her presence, tribal employees could not be paid. Suspending her would have created a “crisis.”
Here’s the first article:
Judge upholds suspension of some tribal council members for refusing drug test
Associated Press – November 10, 2007 5:25 PM ET
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – An Oglala Sioux tribal judge has upheld the suspensions of some tribal council members who reportedly refused to take a drug test.
It was not clear how many council members were suspended. Judge Lisa Adams listed six and possibly a seventh, but council members put the number at four or five.
After a daylong hearing, Adams said she thinks the tribal council can require drug tests of its members.
She did, however, reverse the suspension of tribal treasurer Crystal Eagle Elk. She says the tribe could not pay employees or provide vital assistance if the treasurer were suspended.
Supporters of the resolution say it was a response to federal charges in New Mexico against council member Don Garnier, who has been suspended pending the outcome of the case against him.
Adams says she expects her ruling will be appealed.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Here’s the second article:
Oglala Tribal Council suspends members refusing drug test
Judge Lisa Adams upholds council suspensions
By Bill Harlan, Journal staff Sunday, November 11, 2007
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The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council has suspended some members for refusing to take a drug test, and a tribal judge in Pine Ridge upheld the suspensions in a ruling Friday afternoon.
In the same ruling, Chief Judge Lisa Adams reversed the suspension of the tribe’s treasurer, Crystal Eagle Elk, saying the council did not have authority to suspend her.
“My ruling was really simple,” Adams said late Friday afternoon, after a court hearing that lasted all day. It was not clear Friday how many council members had been suspended for refusing the test. Adams’ list had six members, and possibly a seventh, but council members put the number at four or five.
It was clear, however, that Eagle Elk was not suspended. The judge said suspending her would have resulted in a “crisis” because the tribe would have been unable to pay employees or provide vital assistance.
Adams also struck down two parts of a resolution to suspend council members who refused the drug test. One of those provisions would have required publication of the results of the drug tests in newspapers. The other would have required members who failed tests to resign or be impeached.
“The problem is, the council abrogated its own rights,” Adams said.
Drug-test results should be private, Adams said, in part because they could expose council members to criminal prosecution.
Tribal Councilman Floyd Brings Plenty of Oglala, in the White Clay District of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, introduced the original resolution Oct. 18.
It passed 10 to 3, Adams said, with five council members absent.
Brings Plenty said the measure was a response to federal charges in New Mexico against Councilman Don Garnier.
Garnier was a passenger in a car with 21 pounds of marijuana in the trunk, which authorities discovered during a routine traffic stop. Garnier was suspended pending the outcome of that case.
Brings Plenty said his resolution would demonstrate the council’s commitment to a drug-free reservation.
The measure requires council members and other elected tribal officials to take hair-follicle drug tests. Adams said an attorney for the tribe argued Friday that hair-follicle tests were more accurate than urine tests and could reveal drug use weeks or months before the test.
Brings Plenty said Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Steele ignored the council’s original resolution.
Steele was traveling this week, so Vice President William “Shorty” Brewer signed the order suspending the tribal members and the treasurer.
Tribal Councilman Tom Poor Bear, who was suspended, said he will fight the measure. “That violates our constitutional rights,” he said. “I was elected by the people of the Eagle Nest District.” Poor Bear said drug tests should be reserved for paramedics, law officers and others in similar positions.
Adams said six or seven council members had been suspended, but Kathy Janis of the Wounded Knee District, who was on Adams’ original list, said she not only took the drug test, she voted in favor of it. “If we want our employees to be drug free and take a hair-follicle test, why should we be exempt?” she said. Her name was on the original list in error, she said.
Garfield Little Dog Steele of the Wounded Knee District acknowledged he was suspended. He said his hair was too short for the test last month, but he did take a test this week and expected results Tuesday.
“I’m in favor of this,” Garfield Steele said. He voted for the drug tests, he said, and he said most people on the Pine Ridge reservation supported a drug-free council that “policed themselves.”
Garfield Steele and Janis said Austin Watkins of the Medicine Root District also would be removed from the list.
Other council members on Adams’ list were:
-Jim Meeks of the Eagle Nest District
-Kim Clausen of the LaCreek District
-Cora Whiting of the Medicine Root District
Janis said those three council members remained suspended, but the Rapid City Journal was unable to contact them Friday.
Adams said she believed the tribal council did have the authority to require drug tests of members. “The goal is to promote a drug-free council,” she said. “And if you test positive, you probably should step down.”
Adams expected her ruling to be appealed to the tribe’s three-member supreme court.