United States Commission on Civil Rights

Confidential Draft Report
“Enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968”

May 1990

Indian Civil Rights, page 24
November 1987: The Red Lake CFR court was changed from a CFR court to a tribal court under a contract with the Bureau for judicial services.[51]

      Right to Counsel at Red Lake
     The hearing turned to allegations that the Red Lake Tribe was denying persons their right to counsel.  As noted above, these allegations were the subject of a suit brought by the Department of Justice against the tribe, dismissed when the Supreme Court decided Martinez.  Under a tribal resolution adopted in 1985, criteria for
directed not to enforce that removal order.  Doing so would implicate the BIA in a denial of right to counsel. ... Bureau Law Enforcement personnel are to be available to protect Mr. Meshbesher's person and property while he is on the Reservation representing his clients.

 Id. at 138 (Emphasis added).  See also Schmicke and Buoen, U.S. reluctant to curb tribal court abuses, Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Jan. 7, 1986, at 1A, reprinted as Exhibit 4, Washington, D.C., Hearing, supra note 4, at 187:

In November -- after three Red Lake Indians sued the Interior Department in an attempt to shut down the Red Lake court because of rights abuses -- the BIA issued a directive from Washington to Indian court officials, including those at Red Lake, saying civil rights laws must be enforced and defendants must be allowed to have lawyers represent them.
     The Red Lake tribe responded by ordering the two BIA officials who said they would enforce the Washington directive off the reservation.  But the BIA officials have remained there.
     Meanwhile, the Red Lake court continues to operate.  A lawyer has yet to appear there.


     [51]  Washington, D.C. Hearing, supra note 4, at 20-21.

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