Legal

ON Supreme Court denies two appeals Pawhuska village money cases

The Osage Nation Supreme Court denied appeals filed by two former Pawhuska Indian Village Five-Man Board members and referred those cases back to the Trial Court.

In the cases against Frank Redcorn and Theodore Brunt, attorneys for both men filed interlocutory appeals with the High Court last year after presiding Associate Trial Court Judge Lee Stout denied motions from both men to dismiss the cases filed against them by former ON Attorney General Jeff Jones.

Jones filed tribal court cases against Redcorn, Brunt and former board members Joe Don Mashunkashey and Kenneth “K.C.” Bills charging the men with several counts of misusing public funds in wake of a 2012 ON Congressional Office of Fiscal Performance and Review audit stating about $806,000 in village revenue generated by the Pawhuska Osage Casino lease is unaccounted for. The ON Attorney General’s Office filed the tribal charges against the men following a tribal police investigation and after the U.S. Attorney’s Office said it would not file federal charges in 2013.

On July 29, the ON Supreme Court dismissed the interlocutory appeals filed by Redcorn and Brunt and said in a court order “this Court does not find good cause to proceed” with the appeals and remanded both cases back to the Trial Court for further proceedings.

The four defendants filed notices of intent to appeal their cases with the Supreme Court after presiding Trial Court Judge Lee Stout declined to dismiss the cases on Nov. 5, 2014. After denying the four motions to dismiss the cases, Stout said he believed the Supreme Court should address village jurisdictional issues raised in the cases and issued his ruling as an interlocutory order, which is provisional, so the defendants could file appeals to the Supreme Court.

According to www.uslegal.com, an interlocutory appeal is an appeal of a ruling by a trial court that is made before the trial itself has concluded. It asks an appellate court to review an aspect of the case before the trial has concluded.

In the end, only Redcorn and Brunt filed interlocutory appeals with the Supreme Court and those appeals were denied by two Supreme Court justices who signed the two identical July 29 orders for those cases. “Based on the record before us, we conclude (the defendants’) claims are reviewable post-judgment and do not justify this Court’s review at this time,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Elizabeth Homer and Chief Justice Meredith Drent said in their order.  

The Supreme Court order also stated there are instances when an interlocutory appeal “raises an issue separate from the merits of the case and would be effectively unreviewable after final judgment such as claims of double jeopardy, qualified immunity, and motions to reduce bail, none of which are the subject of this appeal … Appellate resources should not be spent before the facts have been fully developed.”

While this matter was pending Associate Justice Drew Pierce recused himself, the order said.

Jones, who works in an assistant AG position, said a Nov. 5 motions hearing date is set in Trial Court to further consider the four cases. Check back to www.osagenews.org for further updates on these court cases.