Justices delay ruling on ethics challenge

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Shiles, Bob. “Justices delay ruling on ethics challenge.” The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC). May 1, 2015


Four of the five justices on the Lumbee Supreme Court met to hear a petition submitted by Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The petition referred to the current ethics ordinance and how Brooks, among others, find it unconstitutional. The petition was filed recently because of the announcement that Tribal Council member Larry Townsend was deemed to be in violation of conflict-of-interest regulations.

Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt represented Brooks, who was absent do to a medical complication. Hunt noted that there have not been many changes from the previous ethics ordinances, which were deemed unconstitutional as well.

However, Hunt could not produce a copy of the original 2005 ordinance, which the justices needed to compare with the current ordinance. They could not produce the copy because ordinances that were vetoed are not kept on file. The 2005 ordinance was vetoed. The justices stated that it was necessary to obtain a copy of the 2005 ordinance to aid in their decision, therefore they delayed their ruling.

The hearing was supposed to be private and closed off to the public. However, after a petition was signed by more than 700 tribal members, the hearing was open to the public. The petition was started by a community activist named Robin Branch. Branch stated that, because of the public presence, those in the hearing had to walk a tight line following the constitution.

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