A day after the Cherokee Supreme Court issued a ruling on several appeals involving the impeachment proceedings against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert, Tribal Council approved a new date for the impeachment hearing. In a two-page order issued Wednesday, May 10, three Cherokee Supreme Court Justices affirmed several orders previously issued by Judge Sharon Barrett and lifted the stay on the impeachment proceedings.
During its regular monthly session on Thursday, Tribal Council approved Res. No. 590, in a 9-2 vote, and set the new date for the impeachment hearing for Thursday, May 18. Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy and Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke were the two dissenting votes and Big Cove Rep. Richard French was absent.
The three-panel Cherokee Supreme Court which issued Wednesday’s order included Brenda Toineeta Pipestem, Presiding Chief Justice; Robert C. Hunter, Associate Justice; and Jerry Waddell, Associate Justice sitting by Designation.
In their order, they wrote, “The Orders dated April 18, 2017 and April 26, 2017, issued by Judge Sharon Tracey Barrett are hereby affirmed as to the issues raised by the Attorney General. The issues not raised by the Attorney General are found not to be properly before the trial court at the preliminary injunction stage of proceedings. Section 22 of the Charter and Governing Document of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians includes the power to impeach and remove. The stay over the impeachment proceedings currently pending before the Tribal Council is removed. The Petition for Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition is denied.”
Chief Lambert said in a statement on Monday, May 15, “The order entered by the Court allows Tribal Council to proceed forward with their impeachment process. It doesn’t say that the current attempt to impeach me being made by Tribal Council is fair or even legal. I do not believe anyone thinks Tribal Council intends to give me a fair trial.”
He went on to say, “Doing the right thing often leads to conflict with those who would rather continue to allow wrongdoings to prosper. The mere fact that a criminal investigation by the FBI is currently underway should cause those in the highest elected positions to step up in support of cleaning up our government. Likewise, should targets of a federal investigation be allowed to vote on impeachment? Instead, they have turned their full attention to me in an effort that I can only imagine is a response to the sharp stance I have made against those who have taken advantage of the Tribe. If an honest trial would be given, I would have no issue with the process. I will continue to take a stand and expose the corruption that has stained our government and thrown a veil over the real issue at hand – criminal fraudulent theft of Tribal resources.”
On Thursday, Tribal Council will discuss, debate, and possibly rule on the 12 various Articles of Impeachment. It has not been stated publicly when a ruling following Thursday’s hearing will be issued, but a ruling is expected sometime on Thursday as that is the only date that has been set for the Hearing.
Tribal Council Chairman Bill Taylor was contacted for comment on this issue, and a response was not received by press time.
Read the timeline of events in these various One Feather articles on the impeachment to see how we got to where we are today:
– One Feather staff report