| by Bill Lawrence
At its regular monthly meeting on
November 12th, the Red Lake tribal council hired Red Lake
tribal member Shirley Cain as chief judge and court administrator.
Cain, age 48, will assume her new
duties on Monday, November 18th. She is a licensed
attorney and a member of the Minnesota Bar Association. She is a
1985 graduate of Metro State University and a 1988 graduate of
William Mitchell College of Law. She has worked in the legal
departments for the White Earth band and the Mille Lacs Band of
Ojibwe, and has been in private practice since she became a member of
the Minnesota Bar in 1991. She agreed to a one-year contract at a
salary of $70,000 for the combined position of chief judge and court
Ms. Cain will be the first licensed
attorney to become chief judge for the Red Lake tribal court since
its inception more than a hundred years ago. Ms. Cain told Press/ON
in a phone interview that she was excited about her new position and
looks forward to assuming her duties next Monday. She said that she
has long been a critic of the court in
the past because of its lack
of independence and its lack of law-trained judges, but that recently
she has changed her thinking and she decided that the best way to
help overcome the court’s deficiencies is to try to work from
within the system rather than criticize it from the outside.
She said that her first task would be
to conduct a meeting with the court judges and the court staff, and
to encourage everyone to work as a team.
Current chief judge Wanda Lyons will
become an associate judge, and current Red Lake tribal court
administrator Donald Cook, Sr., was terminated due to the fact that
his position of court administrator was abolished.
The Red Lake tribal council resolution
to hire Ms. Cain was introduced by Richard Barrett, Sr., and seconded
by Billy Greene, both Little Rock reps. The resolution was passed by
a vote of 8 ‘for,’ 0 ‘against,’ and two abstentions. Both
Ponemah reps, Clifford Hardy and Rudy Johnson, abstained.