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Article VII

ARTICLE VII - JUDICIARY


Section 1. Composition of the Judiciary.

There shall be a Supreme Court of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a Trial Court of the Ho-Chunk Nation, such other lower courts of special jurisdiction as deemed necessary by the Legislature, and other forums of special jurisdiction for traditional dispute resolution as deemed necessary by the Legislature.


Section 2. Composition of the Supreme Court.

There shall be one Chief Justice and two Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.


Section 3. Composition of the Trial Court.

There shall be one Chief Judge of the Trial Court and other Associate Judges as deemed necessary by the Legislature. 


Section 4. Powers of the Judiciary.

The judicial power of the Ho-Chunk Nation shall be vested in the Judiciary. The Judiciary shall have the power to interpret and apply the Constitution and laws of the Ho-Chunk Nation.


Section 5. Jurisdiction of the Judiciary.

(a) 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, including cases in which the Ho-Chunk Nation, or its officials and employees, shall be a party. Any such case or controversy arising within the jurisdiction of the Ho-Chunk Nation shall be filed in Trial Court before it is filed in any other court. This grant of jurisdiction by the General Council shall not be construed to be a waiver of the Nation's sovereign immunity. 

(b) The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction over any case on appeal from the Trial Court.


Section 6. Powers of the Trial Court.

(a) The Trial Court shall have the power to make findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Trial Court shall have the power to issue all remedies in law and in equity including injunctive and declaratory relief and all writs including attachment and mandamus.

(b) The Trial Court shall have the power to declare the laws of the Ho-Chunk Nation void if such laws are not in agreement with this Constitution. 


Section 7. Powers of the Supreme Court.

(a) The Supreme Court shall have the power to interpret the Constitution and laws of the Ho-Chunk Nation and to make conclusions of law. The Supreme Court shall not have the power to make findings of fact except as provided by enactment of the Legislature.

(b) The Supreme Court shall have the power to establish written rules for the Judiciary, including qualifications to practice before the Ho-Chunk courts, provided such rules are consistent with the laws of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

(c) Any decision of the Supreme Court shall be final. 


Section 8. Qualifications.

(a) The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be at least forty (40) years old, an attorney admitted to practice in any State and before the Ho-Chunk courts, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and shall possess all qualifications required by enactment of the Legislature. No person convicted of a felony shall serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court unless pardoned.

(b) Associate Justices of the Supreme Court shall have been admitted to practice before the Ho-Chunk Courts and shall possess all qualifications required by enactment of the Legislature. No person convicted of a felony shall serve as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court unless pardoned. 

(c) The Chief Judge and Associate Judges of the Trial Court shall possess all qualifications required by enactment of the Legislature. No person convicted of a felony shall serve as Chief Judge or Associate Judge of the Trial Court unless pardoned.


Section 9. Terms of Office.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be elected to serve for six (6) years and until such time as an election is held and a successor has been sworn into office. At the first election for positions on the Supreme Court, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes for the position of Associate Justice shall serve a four year term; the candidate receiving the second highest number of votes shall serve a two year term. Thereafter, Associate Justices shall serve for four (4) year staggered terms. A Supreme Court Justice shall serve until a successor has been sworn into office.  


Section 10. Election of Supreme Court Justices.

Supreme Court Justices shall be elected by a majority of the eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation, in accordance with the General Election provisions in Article VIII, Section 1, unless otherwise provided.


Section 11. Election of Trial Court Judges.

The Chief Trial Judge and any Associate Judges to the Trial Court shall be elected by a majority vote of the eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation in accordance with the General Election provisions in Article VIII Section 1, unless otherwise provided.  All candidates shall be a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.  Trial Judges shall serve staggered four (4) year terms and shall serve until a successor has been sworn into office except if the Trial Court Judge has been successfully recalled or removed.  In the event a Trial Court Justice is removed, the Legislature may appoint an Interim Trial Court Judge, until a successor has been sworn into office. 


Section 12. Compensation.

Supreme Court Justices and Trial Court Judges shall receive reasonable compensation. No increase or decrease in compensation for Justices or Judges shall take effect until after the next General Election or appointment to that office.


Section 13. Conflict of Interest.

Any Justice or Judge with a direct personal or financial interest in any matter before the Judiciary shall recuse; failure to recuse constitutes cause for removal in accordance with Article IX, Section 4. The Legislature shall appoint a Justice or Judge pro tempore to fill any vacancy due to recusal. 


Section 14. Right to Appeal.

Any party to a civil action, or a defendant in a criminal action, who is dissatisfied with the judgment or verdict may appeal to the Supreme Court. All appeals before the Supreme Court shall be heard by the full Court.