Court denies petition seeking election for Chief, Vice Chief

by May 7, 2013Front Page, NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments




The 2013 election for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will go on as planned, and it will not include an election for Principal Chief and Vice Chief.  A clerical error in the EBCI Election Ordinance called for such an election this year.

The Cherokee Supreme Court issued its response on April 24 to a Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed March 26 by Patrick Lambert who was seeking a literal following of the law.  The Election Ordinance was amended in 2012 and, due to a clerical error, stated that a primary election would be held for the offices of Principal Chief and Vice Chief in 2013 instead of the originally intended 2015.

Lambert filed to run for the office of Principal Chief, but was denied by the EBCI Board of Elections (BOE).  After being denied, he filed a protest to which the BOE replied, “The Board cannot give effect to the clerical error ‘2013’ instead of ‘2015’ because it is in conflict with the Tribal Charter…the 2012 Amendment’s provision referencing a primary election for Vice Chief ‘in June, 2013, and each four years thereafter,’ instead of 2015 is in direct conflict with section 5 of the Tribal Charter…”

In its decision on the Writ of Mandamus, the Supreme Court Justices wrote, “This Court has reviewed the record upon which the BOE made its final determination and notes that nowhere in any part of the record was there any indication that the Tribal Council ever intended to change the date of the primary election for Chief and Vice Chief to 2013.  Here, we have unequivocal evidence of mistake, unequivocal evidence of the law’s true object and design and evidence of an absurd result if not corrected.”

Neither Lambert nor the EBCI Board of Elections returned a request for comment by press time.

Cherokee Supreme Court Decision in case

Filed Writ of Mandamus 3-26-13