Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Miner v. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Standing Rock Tribal Court

May 20, 2009

LORRIE MINER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE AND STANDING ROCK TRIBAL COURT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Daniel L. Hovland, Chief Judge United States District Court

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Before the Court are the Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed on December 23, 2008, and the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment filed on January 2, 2009. See Docket Nos. 7 and 10. The Plaintiff filed a consolidated brief in opposition to the Defendants' motion and in support of the motion for summary judgment. See Docket Nos. 11 and 12. On January 14, 2009, the Defendants filed a consolidated reply brief. See Docket Nos. 17 and 18. The Court grants the Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and denies the Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

On September 26, 2001, the citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation voted to retain the plaintiff, Lorrie Miner, as the Chief Judge of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court for a four-year term commencing on September 26, 2001. On April 22, 2002, Miner and then Tribal Council Chairman Charles W. Murphy entered into an employment contract, entitled "Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Employment Agreement," to memorialize the terms and scope of Miner's employment. The employment contract provided the following provisions with respect to compensation and leave and term of employment:

3. COMPENSATION AND LEAVE. As consideration for the services to be performed under this Agreement, the Tribe shall pay the Chief Judge a rate of $50.00 per hour . . . . The Chief Judge shall be entitled to receive an annual cost of living increase as provided for other permanent full-time employees. In addition, the Chief Judge shall be allowed to accumulate four

(4) hours annual leave and four (4) hours sick leave per pay period and compensation leave ("comp time") . . . . The Chief Judge shall also be allowed to participate in the Tribe's 401(k) retirement program and the Tribe's Health Insurance program. . . .

4. TERM. The Chief Judge was retained in the September 2001 general election and shall serve a four (4) year term, unless removed for cause as provided in the Code of Justice. The Chief Judge shall be subject to another referendum election at the regular tribal election in September, 2005. If the Chief Judge is again retained in office, the parties may renegotiate or extend this Agreement, as agreed upon by the parties. If the Chief Judge is not retained in Office, the Chief Judge shall continue to serve until a replacement is appointed by the Chairman's Office or the Tribal Council.

5. TERMINATION. The parties agree that the Chief Judge may only be removed from office, prior to September 2005, as set forth in Section 1-307 of the Code of Justice. If removed, this Contract will terminate on the date of removal. Additionally, the Chief Judge may terminate this Agreement, provided the Tribe is given thirty (30) days advance notice, in writing.

See Docket No. 11-2.

On September 28, 2005, the citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation again voted to retain Miner as the Chief Judge of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court for a four-year term commencing on September 28, 2005.

In November 2005, Archie Fool Bear, a member of the Tribal Council, informed Miner that the Judicial Committee sought to renegotiate her employment contract. Miner requested that the Judicial Committee set forth its position in writing. On December 22, 2005, Fool Bear sent a letter to Miner proposing significant alterations to the terms of the April 22, 2002, employment contract.

In a letter dated December 22, 2005, Miner rejected the proposal set forth by Fool Bear, stating:

With this letter I am rejecting the Chief Judge Position Proposal submitted to me under letter of December 22, 2005.

First, my current employment contract does not expire as stated in your 12/1/2005 memo. There is not an expiration date in the current employment agreement, to-wit: "if the Chief Judge is again retained in office, the parties may renegotiate or extend this Agreement, as agreed upon by the parties." There being no expiration date, the employment agreement continues as is.

See Docket No. 1 (emphasis in original). On January 9, 2006, Fool Bear sent Miner a letter in which he proposed a twenty percent reduction in Miner's compensation and the elimination of any cost of living increases. In a letter dated January 11, 2006, Miner rejected Fool Bear's proposal and restated her decision to continue working under the terms of the April 22, 2002, employment contract.

On February 7, 2006, the Chairman contacted Miner to schedule a March 3, 2006, meeting with the Tribal Council for the sole purpose of renegotiating her employment contract. Miner submitted a proposal to the Tribal Council in which she set forth her proposed revisions to the employment contract. On February 27, 2006, the Judicial Committee passed a motion which recommended to the Tribal Council that Chief Judge Miner's yearly salary be reduced from over $91,000, plus paid leave and benefits, to $75,000 which would include all fringe benefits.

On March 3, 2006, the Tribal Council approved motions 10 and 13 which stated: #10. Motion was made by Joe White Mountain, seconded by Archie Fool Bear, to approve the Tribal Council has met with Judge Miner in an effort to negotiate a contract the Tribe's final offer has been rejected therefore it is moved that the Tribal Council now declares that the negotiations with the judges are concluded and there are no contracts existing between the said judge and the tribe. #13. Motion was made by Archie Fool Bear, seconded by Joe White Mountain, to approve that individuals performing professional services for the Tribe who do no have an authorized contract be given two [2] weeks notice that they will not be paid for their services after March 17, 2006, further that the tribal finance director is directed to insure that such individuals receive pay for work performed and for leave accrued and to be paid in full for those amounts on or before the close of business on March 17, 2006.

See Docket No. 11-3 (errors in original). Motion 10 was approved by Council Members Joe White Mountain, Sr., Frank White Bull, Archie Fool Bear, Matt Lopez, Henry Harrison, Milton Brown Otter, Joe Strong Heart, Sr., and Avis Little Eagle. Motion 13 was approved by Joe White Mountain, Sr., Frank White ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.