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FAQs

 

  1. What is the Judiciary?
  2. What is the role of the Judiciary?
  3. How many separate courts operate in the Judiciary?
  4. What is the role of the Traditional Court?
  5. What is the role of the Supreme Court?
  6. What is the role of the Trial Court?
  7. What type of cases can the Judiciary adjudicate?
  8. Can the Judiciary hear cases alleging a violation of state statutory or common law?
  9. Does state case law serve as binding precedent upon the Trial Court?
  10. What is the role of the judicial staff attorney?
  11. How does one file a case in Trial Court?
  12. What are the fees and costs associated with initiating and maintaining an action in the Judiciary?
  13. Can one seek a waiver of the filing fee?
  14. Can one seek expedited consideration of an initial pleading?
  15. How does one file a motion in Trial Court?
  16. Can one seek expedited consideration of a motion?
  17. What is the difference between a pleading and a motion?
  18. Can one appear at a judicial proceeding by telephone?
  19. How long does the Trial Court have to enter a decision?
  20. How does an attorney or lay advocate seek admission to the Ho-Chunk Nation Bar?
  21. How does one appeal an administrative decision issued by an Executive Branch agency, e.g., Grievance Review Board and Gaming Commission?
  22. Can one intercept tribal per capita monies for purposes of satisfying a state or other tribal child support order?
  23. Can the Trial Court enter a child support order in the first instance?
  24. Can one intercept tribal per capita monies for purposes of satisfying an individual debt?
  25. Can one receive a divorce in the Trial Court?
  26. Can the Trial Court probate an estate?



What is the Judiciary?

The Judiciary is one of four branches of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a federally recognized sovereign Indian tribe.  See 72 Fed. Reg. 13648 (Mar. 22, 2007); see also Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. III.

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What is the role of the Judiciary?

The Judiciary is charged with the interpretation and application of tribal laws by the Ho-Chunk Nation General Council.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. IV, § 2.

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How many separate courts operate in the Judiciary?

The Judiciary is comprised of three courts:  Traditional Court, Supreme Court and Trial Court.  Each occupies a separately defined sphere, and exercises varying degrees of authority.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. VII, § 1; see also Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary Establishment & Organization Act, 1 HCC § 1.3. 

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What is the role of the Traditional Court?

The Traditional Court may adjudicate matters brought voluntarily by both parties to a dispute.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary Establishment & Organization Act, 1 HCC § 1.12; see also Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 70.  The Traditional Court may also articulate custom and tradition, which subsequently may form the basis for the Trial Court's exercise of subject matter jurisdiction over a case or controversy.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. VII, § 5(a); see also In the Interest of Pauline B. Mike v. Loylee B. Mike et al., CV 99-42 (HCN Tr. Ct., July 23, 1999).  In addition, the Traditional Court serves as an accessible and invaluable fount of knowledge for the other branches of tribal government and external governmental and private agencies.      

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What is the role of the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court presides over appeals of Trial Court decisions.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. VII, § 7(a), 14; see also Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rule 7.  The Supreme Court also possesses authority to create rules for the Judiciary.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. VII, § 7(b); see also Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary Establishment & Organization Act, 1 HCC § 1.5d.   

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What is the role of the Trial Court?

The Trial Court presides over primarily civil causes of action initiated by the filing of an initial pleading.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. VII, § 6; see also Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 3. 

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What type of cases can the Judiciary adjudicate?

"The Trial Court shall have original jurisdiction over all cases and controversies, both criminal and civil, in law or in equity, arising under the Constitution, laws, customs and traditions of the Ho-Chunk Nation . . . ."  Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, art. VII, § 5(a) see also Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary Establishment & Organization Act, 1 HCC § 1.4.

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Can the Judiciary hear cases alleging a violation of state statutory or common law?

No.  The subject matter jurisdiction of the Judiciary is limited to sources of tribal law, including tribal common law derived and developed from the Traditional Court's articulation of tradition and custom.  Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Art. VII, § 5(a);see also Ho-Chunk Nation v. Harry Steindorf et al., SU 00-04 (HCN S. Ct., Sept. 29, 2000).

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Does state case law serve as binding precedent upon the Trial Court?

No.  Only decisions by the Supreme Court possess binding precedential authority on matters of tribal law.  Otherwise, the Trial Court must attempt to remain consistent in its adjudication of similar cases and controversies.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation,Art. VII, § 7(c)  see also Jacob Lonetree et al. v. Robert Funmaker, Jr. et al., SU 00-16 (HCN S. Ct., Mar. 16, 2001).  However, state case law may serve as persuasive authority.

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What is the role of the judicial staff attorney?

The staff attorneys are employees of the Judiciary, and, therefore, cannot provide legal advice or representation for members of the public.  Staff attorneys may assist the public with procedural inquiries and may guide individuals to other judicial resources.  Tribal members may contact the Indian Law Office of Wisconsin Judicare, Inc. at (800) 472-1638 for independent legal assistance. The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature maintains a contract with this entity for provision of legal services to tribal members.

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How does one file a case in Trial Court?

An individual may file an initial pleading with judicial administrative staff, and the Trial Court will accept the filing provided that it contains the five component parts of a complaint.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 3(A).  The Trial Court maintains several boilerplate pleading forms for the convenience of the public.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 81.  The Trial Court will serve the document upon the opposing party.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5(A). 

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What are the fees and costs associated with initiating and maintaining an action in the Judiciary?

The Supreme Court periodically establishes the cost and fee structure for the Judiciary. See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, App. I.  The Trial Court filing fee is $50.00.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(B).  The filing fee for recognition and enforcement of foreign orders, including child support orders, is $20.00.   See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, App. I.

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Can one seek a waiver of the filing fee?

The Supreme Court and Trial Court may waive the filing fee upon presentation of either aMotion for Fee Waiver or Affidavit and Order to Waive Fees and Costs, respectively.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rule 9(b); Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(C).

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Can one seek expedited (faster) consideration of an initial pleading?

Under limited circumstances, the Trial Court may enter an Emergency Order on the basis of an initial pleading.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 60(A). However, generally the Trial Court will afford the responding party twenty (20) calendar days from the issuance of a summons to file a responsive pleading.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 6(A).  Alternatively, a motion may accompany an initial pleading, and the motion process advances under a diminished timeframe.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 18-20.  The Judiciary has also recognized the ability to seek a preliminary injunction, adopting the prevailing federal four-prong test. See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Art. VII, § 6(a); see also Coalition for Fair Gov't II v. Chloris A. Lowe, Jr. et al., SU 96-02 (HCN S. Ct., July 1, 1996).

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How does one file a motion in Trial Court?

Apart from the filing of the initial pleading, parties must file all other documents with the Trial Court and upon one another.  Consequently, a Certificate of Service must accompany each filing.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5(B).  Parties may accomplish service by regular mail, and accordingly must inform the Court and all other parties of any change of address.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5(C)(3). 

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Can one seek expedited (faster) consideration of a motion?

Yes.  A Motion for Expedited Consideration must accompany the motion, and the moving party must satisfy the two-prong test identified in the relevant rule.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 19(C).

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What is the difference between a pleading and a motion?

An initial or responsive pleading typically takes the form of a complaint, petition or answer, and usually occurs at the beginning of an action.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 3, 6.  A motion is simply a request, and may be presented in conjunction with or following the filing of a pleading.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 18.

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Can one appear at a judicial proceeding by telephone?

Yes.  The requesting party, however, must file a motion to appear by telephone.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 18.  Otherwise, the Court will likely refuse to permit the telephonic appearance.  See In re: Telephonic Appearances, Admin. 07-02(HCN Tr. Ct., Feb. 28, 2007).

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How long does the Trial Court have to enter a decision?

Pursuant to Supreme Court administrative rule, the Trial Court must enter interlocutory and final decisions within at least three months after final presentation of the matter to the presiding judge.  See In the Matter of Timely Issuance of Decisions, SU 05-01 (HCN S. Ct., Apr. 9, 2005).

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How does an attorney or lay advocate seek admission to the Ho-Chunk Nation Bar?

Legal counsel must contact the Supreme Court Clerk of Court at (800) 434-4070, and subsequently comply with the adopted admission requirements.  See Rules for Admission to Practice.  Alternatively, legal counsel may seek permission to appear on a single occasion in the Trial Court by filing an Ex Parte Motion, Affidavit, and Order to Appear Pro Hac Vice.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 16(C).  

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How does one appeal an administrative decision issued by an Executive Branch agency, e.g., Grievance Review Board and Gaming Commission?

The appealing party must file a Petition for Administrative Review with the Trial Court, and direct copies to the other identified parties.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 63(A-B).  Consequently, a Certificate of Service must accompany the filing.  See Ho-Chunk Nation Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 5(B), 63(C).

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Can one intercept tribal per capita monies for purposes of satisfying a state or other tribal child support order?

Yes.  Contact the Ho-Chunk Nation Child Support Agency for more information. (715) 284-7690

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Can the Trial Court enter a child support order in the first instance?

Yes. The Trial Court can enter a child support order in the first instance in a child support case, divorce, or paterntity action. Contact the Ho-Chunk Nation Child Support Agency for more information.  (715) 284-7690

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Can one intercept tribal per capita monies for purposes of satisfying an individual debt?

No, with five exceptions.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature has identified five potential claims against a tribal member's per capita payments.  See Claims Against Per Capita Ordinance, 2 HCC § 8.5a.  One such claim involves a debt owed to a Ho-Chunk Nation elder.  See Elder Protection Act of 2001, 4 HCC § 1.5i, 25a(6).

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Can one receive a divorce in Trial Court?

Yes.  The Court may address a divorce with or without minor children. 

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Can the Trial Court probate an estate?

No.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature has not yet adopted a probate code, resulting in a lack of subject matter jurisdiction over this concern.  See Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Art. VII, § 5(a); see also Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary Establishment & Organization Act, 1 HCC § 1.4.

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Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court.
Copyright © 2006  [Ho-Chunk Nation Judiciary]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/26/07.