NESPELEM – A motion filed by former Colville Business Council member Andrea George seeking to prevent Darnell Sam from being seated to the council has been denied by Colville Tribal Court.
The court ruled March 5, saying the council “retains exclusive jurisdiction over who may maintain their position as a member of the constitutional legislative body of the tribes.”
Sam was named March 5 during a Nespelem District meeting to succeed George on the council. George was expelled from the council Feb. 21.
George filed the motion March 1 in a matter already before the court, her lawsuit filed in January against the council, three attorneys in the Office of the Reservation Attorney and Colville Business Council outside counsel.
The complaint alleges, among other assertions, violations of George’s rights. When the suit was filed, George also filed motions seeking to prevent the council from voting on a matter before it from the Rules Committee, and requesting an order to seal the record of her case.
Those motions also were denied by the court.
“I am appreciative that matters are ruled on in a timely manner by the tribal court,” said council Chairman Rodney Cawston. “It is important that the legislative and judicial branches of our government continue to function efficiently and effectively.”
In its ruling on March 5, the court said the tribal Constitution “expressly delegates to the Colville Business Council the authority to be the final judge of the qualifications” of council members.
The ruling also referenced the constitutional provision regarding filling of vacancies, which states that “the business council shall declare the position vacant and appoint a member from the district affected to fill the unexpired term.”