Day Three of removal trial hears testimonies on open records requests

Two newspaper editors took the stand during Day Three of the removal trial of Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle.

Osage News Editor Shannon Shaw Duty and Bigheart Times Editor and owner Louise Red Corn spoke during individual testimonies and described their newspapers’ tussles with the Red Eagle administration in seeking copies of the Rod Hartness consultant contract. They testified regarding the allegations that the Chief withheld public documents they properly requested under the Osage open records act.

Both newspapers’ requests went unanswered and resulted in a tribal court lawsuit the Osage News filed against the Chief asking the ON Trial Court to compel the Chief to produce a copy of the Hartness contract in June 2013, which was settled later that fall when Chief Red Eagle paid the newspaper’s attorney fees in the amount of $4,550.

Requests for the Hartness contract came after a January 2013 public meeting where Chief Red Eagle told the Congressional Commerce and Economic Development Committee that Hartness had a consultant contract with the Nation to advise him on energy matters. Duty sought the contract after inquiries to the Chief during the meeting went unanswered.

“During a Jan. 30 commerce (committee) meeting I asked the Chief the amount of the contract,” Duty said. Chief’s trial legal counsel Kirke Kickingbird, who was also present at the meeting, told Duty she would have to file an open records request for the contract.

Duty did so the following day and described the aftermath of non-responses from the Chief’s office asking about the status of her open records request.

Red Corn also sought the contract with her requests unanswered. 

Chief Red Eagle and other Executive Branch officials who were subpoenaed for this trial have yet to testify on this Article allegation concerning the Hartness contract.

Day Four of the removal trial is Jan. 16 starting at 9 a.m.

No cameras during trial

Osage Nation Supreme Court Associate Justice Jeanine Logan, who is presiding in the removal trial of Principal Chief John Red Eagle issued an order prohibiting the use of still or video cameras (including cell phones) within the Congressional chambers during the trial.

The Jan. 15 order then states: “Violation of this order will result in forfeiture of equipment.” The order also includes the lobby area outside the chambers where ON police are patrolling.