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Information is current as of January 2021.

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Resource Directory: Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

Tribal Court Address:

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Court

58620 Sink Rd, PO Box

355 Dowagiac, MI 49047

Phone: 269-783-0505 Fax: 269-783-0519

Tribal Organization:

  • Federal recognition reaffirmed in 1994
  • Constitution adopted in 2005
  • Number of Council Members – 11
  • Tribal Council term of office – to serve staggered three-year terms
  • Number of Tribal citizens – 5,797

Judicial Organization:

The Tribal Judiciary is a separate, independent branch of the Pokagon Band government. The Tribal Court Judiciary consists of the chief judge, one associate judge, and three appellate court justices. All judges are appointed by the Tribal Council to serve staggered four-year terms.

Judges:

Tribal Court:

  • Chief Judge: Michael Petoskey (P37386)
  • Associate Judge: David M. Peterson (P18834)
  • Court of Appeals:
  • Chief Justice: Robert T. Anderson (WA 30206)
  • Associate Justices: Matthew L.M. Fletcher (P61593)
  • Jill E. Tompkins (ME 6901)

Court Staff:

  • Court Administrator: Stephen H. Rambeaux (P54024)
  • Assistant Ct. Admnr/Clerk of the Courts: Stacey Rock
  • Court Clerks: Donna Walls and Tomika Bomer
  • Community Justice Officer/Probation Officer: Vacant

Territorial Jurisdiction:

The Tribal Court is a court of general jurisdiction and has jurisdiction over actions arising under the Tribal Constitution and laws of the Band. The Tribal Court exercises both criminal and civil jurisdiction over various parcels of land held in trust for the Band by the United States in Michigan and Indiana totaling 3,361 acres. In addition, the Pokagon Band exercises jurisdiction over Indian Child Welfare matters within its service area, which consists of Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties in Michigan and Elkhart, Kosciusko, La Porte, Marshall, St. Joseph, and Starke counties in Indiana.

Requirements for Practicing Before Tribal Court:

The Tribal Court admits attorneys who are licensed to practice in any state and who are in good standing to practice before the Tribal Court. Each applicant for admission must complete an Application for Admission to Practice, an Oath of Admission, and must be duly admitted to practice. Admission to practice before the Tribal Court is deemed admission to practice before the Appellate Court. The Application for Admission to Practice and Oath of Admission are available on the Pokagon Band website (links to new window).

Intergovernmental Agreements:

State of Michigan tax agreement and amendments.

Cross-deputization agreements of law enforcement with each of the counties of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren.

Unless the limited circumstances where federal law mandates “full faith and credit” recognition and enforcement are present, tribal laws, court rules, and administrative orders provide for “comity” recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, orders, subpoenas, and warrants from states, tribal courts, and courts of foreign countries.

However, state of Michigan judgments, orders, subpoenas, and warrants are presumed to be valid (along with other states, tribal courts, and foreign countries that provide reciprocal recognition and enforcement of Pokagon Band Tribal Court judgments, orders, subpoenas, and warrants).

Laws and Procedures:

  • Tribal Constitution adopted in 2005
  • Tribal Codes and Ordinances
  • Pokagon Band Tribal Court Rules
  • Chapter 1, Court Rules of Adoption and Publication for Public Comment
  • Chapter 2, Reserved for Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Chapter 3, Court Rules for Civil Infractions
  • Chapter 4, Rules of Evidence
  • Chapter 5, Court Rules of Appellate Procedure
  • Chapter 6, Court Rules for Recognition of Foreign Court Actions
  • Chapter 7, Court Rules for Small Claims
  • Chapter 8, Court Rules for Judicial Conduct
  • Chapter 9, Court Rules of Ethics for Tribal Court Personnel
  • Chapter 10, Court Rules for the Appointment of Counsel
  • Chapter 11, Court Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys
  • Copies of the laws, court rules, administrative orders, and opinions of the court are posted and available on the Pokagon Band website (links to new window), Tribal Court, and Tribal Government links.