Native American Press / Ojibwe News

Nov 15, 2002
newly-elected Red Lake Indian Court judge Shirley Cain

Photo by Larry Adams
BSU Senior Tara Novak and newly-appointed Red Lake Chief Judge Shirley M. Cain at the 2002 BSU Pow wow in Bemidji

RLTC hires Shirley Cain as chief judge and court administrator
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 administrator.

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.