--- Am. Tribal Law ----, 2019 WL 1452888 (Colville C.A.), 14 CCAR 35, 7 CTCR 29
Colville Tribal Court of Appeals.
Melissa LOUIS-WILLIAMS, Appellant,
Case No. AP18-012
Decided February 19, 2019
7 CTCR 29
14 CCAR 35
Trial Court Case No. CV-OC-2018-41035]

Attorneys and Law Firms
[Mark J. Carroll, Attorney, for Appellant.
Jason D’Avignon, Office of Reservation Attorney, for Appellee.
Before Presiding Justice Michael Taylor, Justice David C. Bonga, and Justice R. John Sloan Jr.


Taylor, J.

Appellant Williams was elected to the Colville Business Council (CBC) in June of 2017 and sworn into that position in July of 2017. In the fall of 2017, an ethics complaint was filed with the Business Council against Ms. Williams alleging misuse of a tribal credit card. In December of 2017, the Business Council held a hearing regarding the use of the credit card by Ms. Williams. In January of 2018, the Business Council voted to ratify CBC Resolution 2018-54 expelling Ms. Williams from the Business Council. In the course of being separated from the CBC Ms. Williams applied for a cash payment in return for her alleged accrued and unused vacation leave of 235.19308 hours. This cash payment was denied.

In February 2018, Ms. Williams filed a civil rights complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief and damages (CTC § 1-5-1, et. seq.) attacking her removal from the CBC and demanding payment for alleged unused vacation. CV-OC-2018-41035. Appellant alleged that the claims made were covered by applicable tribal insurance. The Appellee Tribes filed a motion to dismiss raising the defenses of un-waived sovereign immunity and non-judiciable based on separation of powers.

On June 27, 2018, this Court upheld dismissal of a complaint filed in the Tribal Court by a former member of the CBC attacking an expulsion from the CBC. In Gabriel v. Colville Business Council, AP18-003, 14 CCAR 05, 7 CTCR 23 (2018), this Court found such claims non-justiciable based on the language of the Constitution of the Tribes and the doctrine of separation of powers.

In July of 2018, the Tribal Court dismissed the Complaint filed by Ms. Williams based on the holding in Gabriel v. Colville Business Council, Ibid.



The material facts of this case are not disputed for the purpose of this appeal. The issues are entirely those of law. Accordingly, the standard of review is de novo. Colville Tribes v. Naff, 2 CCAR 50, 2 CTCR 08, 22 Ind.Lw.Rptr 6032 (1995), Wiley, et al. v. Colville Confederated Tribes, 2 CCAR 60, 2 CTCR 09, 22 Ind.Lw.Rptr 6059 (1995).



The Complaint in this appeal involves two separate issues. First, was Ms. Williams improperly expelled from her elected position by action of the Colville Business Council? Second, was Ms. Williams unlawfully denied a substantial sum of money which she is owed by the Tribes representing her alleged number of hours of unused vacation leave?



The Tribal Court was correct in dismissing the portion of the Complaint which attacked Ms. Williams’ expulsion from her elected position after hearing before the CBC. As we stated in Gabriel v. Colville Business Council, the CBC retains exclusive jurisdiction over who may maintain their position as a member of the Constitutional legislative body of the Tribes. Such questions are non-judiciable based on the doctrine of separation of powers. On this question the Tribal Court decision is upheld.

With regard the question of alleged financial compensation for unused vacation hours owed to Appellant, we return this matter to the Tribal Court for further review. Separation of powers may not be a basis for denying the justiciability of claims for money due and owing. Appellant brought her claim for compensation under provisions of the Colville Tribal Civil Rights Acts including CTC § 1-5-8. The Tribal Court in its review of this portion of Appellant’s complaint should consider, among any other relevant issues raised by the parties, the meaning of CTC § 1-5-8 provisions including “Notwithstanding any other provision...”; “any claim made under this Chapter,”; and “the Tribes carries an active and enforceable policy of liability insurance...”



The decision of the Tribal Court dismissing the portion of the Complaint attacking Appellant’s expulsion from Colville Business Council is upheld. The portion of Appellant’s complaint alleging an unlawful denial of money owed for unused vacation leave is returned to the Tribal Court for proceedings consistent with this Opinion1.

All Citations
--- Am. Tribal Law ----, 2019 WL 1452888, 14 CCAR 35, 7 CTCR 29



The panel has determined that this Appeal may be resolved without oral argument. Appellant attempted to file additional documents with the Court of Appeals. The documents were not derived from the Tribal Court file. The Court of Appeals did not accept or consider these documents.