Clement Edward Cucumber Jr., 45, was convicted on Tuesday, May 13 in the Cherokee Court for two counts of Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order, and violating his probation for a prior Assault on a Female conviction. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment. The sentence, issued by the Honorable Kirk G. Saunooke, Cherokee Court Judge, was yet another multi-year sentence issued by the Cherokee Court following the implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act which authorized criminal sentences of greater than one year in tribal courts.
Sentences of greater than two years in crimes of violence qualify Cherokee inmates for transfer to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for service pursuant to a program created as part of the Tribal Law and Order Act in which tribes can apply to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to have their inmates serving such qualifying active sentences transferred to Federal facilities. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has previously utilized this program, thereby not only preserving Tribal resources, but opening up greater rehabilitation services for inmates through the Bureau of Prisons.
Tribal Prosecutor Jason Smith stated, “I want to thank Assistant Tribal Prosecutor, Justin Eason; Cherokee Probation Officer, John Nations; Cherokee Police Detective, Jason Cable; and Domestic Violence Advocate, Iva Key for their hard work and dedication to this case which made this outcome a possibility. There was a tremendous amount of investigation, legwork, and communication with the victim and witnesses performed by those involved with this case, allowing the system to work as it was intended.”
Assistant Tribal Prosecutor, Justin Eason added, “Sentences like this are an affirmation that Cherokee will defend its more vulnerable members, those who are victims of domestic violence.”
Although this case involved a defendant who was an EBCI tribal member, the Cherokee Court will soon be hearing cases involving non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence pursuant to the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (“VAWA 13”). This unprecedented Federal law, in part, recognizes the original criminal jurisdiction of tribal courts, authorizing prosecutions in certain cases involving domestic violence perpetrated by non-Indians when certain specific requirements are met. Once Cherokee laws are amended to comply with VAWA 13 requirements, these non-Indian perpetrators will also be subject to punishment in the Cherokee Court for the commission of domestic violence crimes against enrolled members on EBCI lands. These amendments are expected to be finalized by the end of this year.
– Office of the Tribal Prosecutor