February 13, 2009 –
MAYETTA: Three justices of the Court of Appeals were sworn in this morning by Steve Ortiz, Tribal Council chairperson, at the Tribal Court building. All three justices have served on the court since 1993 but were given official reappointments today to comply with changes made to the PBPN Constitution last year.
John Wabaunsee (PBPN) Chief Justice, was the first to be sworn in followed by Associate Justices Francis Skenandore (Oneida) and Joseph Young (PBPN). Jim Potter, Tribal Council Secretary, handled the paperwork for today’s oaths of office, while members of the Tribal Council, some PBPN members, and the Tribal Court staff looked on.
According to new changes in the PBPN Constitution, the Court of Appeals is a part of the Judicial Council which is a separate and independent branch of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation government. The Judicial Council is now comprised of a District Court Judge, the three justices of a Court of Appeals, and five magistrates of an Employment Disputes Tribunal. In addition, a separate mediating branch known as the Peacemakers Circle is also being developed but all members of that group have not yet been named.
Last Wednesday, Stacy Leeds was sworn in as the Judge of the District Court followed by the swearing in of five magistrates of the Employment Disputes Tribunal that include Mary LeClere, Paul Vega, Lori Wahwassuck, Mike Shobney, and Steve Duryea. Separate from the Tribe’s Judicial Council, but also sworn in that day, were members of a Healing toWellness Court that is designed to provide an adult treatment program for non-violent substance abusers. The drug court, that will be administered by the Tribal Court, was made possible by a large grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that was awarded to the PBPN last fall. Members of the Healing to Wellness Court include Nathan Hale, Mike Boswell, Mary LeClere, Elaine Mzhickteno-Barr, Juanita Jessepe, Benny Potts, and Brian Jones.
Royetta Rodewald is the Judicial Administrator who manages the court’s offices and judicial system that are presently located at 15498 K Road, Mayetta, Kansas. Recently the PBPN’s General Council approved the construction of a new facility that will sit on 158 Road east of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Health Center that is scheduled to open next year.