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Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Court

Criminal cases against two Confederated Salish and Kootenai court officials resolved

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Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

PABLO — Two criminal cases against Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Court officials have been resolved.

In fall 2017, tribal prosecutors charged Chief Judge Winona Tanner and Clerk of Court Genevieve Morigeau with official misconduct and tampering with witnesses, informants or physical evidence.

They alleged that Morigeau had whited out a traffic citation she had received from the court’s log book, “borrowed” $200 in bond money from an office safe, and allowed $140 in Fish and Game money to go missing, and that Tanner had withheld evidence and failed to act on these matters. They also alleged that Tanner let Morigeau use tribal funds to pay for a hotel room twice during a work trip to Albuquerque, and charged the judge with theft.

On Nov. 13, tribal prosecutors and Morigeau’s attorneys agreed to a three-year deferred-prosecution agreement. While it’s in effect, Morigeau will pay a $200 court administrative fee, have car insurance (she had been cited for driving without it), complete at least 15 hours of financial-management training per year, obey all laws and hold gainful employment.

If Morigeau complies with the requirements for all three years, the charges against her will be dismissed with prejudice. If she doesn’t, the prosecution will be allowed to proceed.

Rhonda Swaney, managing attorney in the tribes’ legal department, had no further comment on the case. Morigeau’s defense attorney, Robert Long, did not reply to a request for comment.

The case against Tanner, meanwhile, was dismissed Oct. 15. “We just felt like this was the best resolution,” said Shane Morigeau, the prosecutor in that case. Morigeau also represents House District 95 in the Montana Legislature.

According to court staff, neither Tanner nor Genevieve Morigeau are employed by the court any longer. Cotter said that while he can’t discuss the judge's confidential settlement agreement, “I’m happy with the decision, and it’s unfortunate that after 20 years on the bench my client had to end her career this way.”

The Tribal Court website currently lists Brad Pluff as Acting Chief Judge, and Chelsi Camel as Acting Clerk of Court.

Shane Morigeau noted that management problems are hardly limited to tribal courts. Moving forward, he said that “I think the court right now is obviously looking at ways to improve. … I think they’ll just resume as they always have and work on being more efficient and effective.”

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