Attorneys representing a Seneca-Cayuga tribal official asked for a continuance Friday as disputing tribal parties met again in the Court of Indian Offenses.
Scott N. Edwards, representing Seneca-Cayuga secretary/treasurer Kay Crow-Ellison, filed for a continuance as his client was ordered to bed rest by her physician.
CFR Judge William Wantland granted the continuance and asked all parties to keep Ellison in their prayers, citing a diabetic condition which prohibited her participation.
Ellison, along with second-chief Katie Birdsong, were scheduled to offer testimony Friday in matters regarding their rights and responsibilities as tribal officials, their right to contact regulatory agencies and their role in the issuance of a $45,000 payment to Edwards to retain his legal services for the tribe's claims committee.
Though the planned hearing items were delayed until Nov. 19 and 20, Wantland announced that several hours of discussions within his chambers on Friday resulted in the disposing of a number of issues in concurrent cases regarding tribal issues.
Wantland announced the following:
€ The $45,000 of tribal funds disbursed to attorney Scott Edwards is currently being held in a trust account and will not be drawn from until matters regarding its issuance is resolved.
€ Kay Ellison is to have access to the tribe's financial records, but is not to distribute funds.
€ An interim committee - made up of two claims committee members and two welfare committee members - will continue the business of tribal welfare programs.
The claims committee's welfare work came to a halt several weeks ago when Chief Paul Spicer ordered that it operate only within funds defined by the tribe's constitution - an amount that equals just over the operational costs, according to tribal officials.
On Friday, Wantland ordered that all members of the interim committee obtain a gaming license and that all checks disbursed must have the signature of two interim committee members.
€ Documents of the claims committee, previously held in the CFR courtroom under the watch of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, will be taken to Tulsa for copying. Three copies will be made - one for the claims committee, one for the welfare committee and one for a forensic auditor, according to Wantland.
Copies were initially ordered to be copied at the federal courtroom in Miami under the watch of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. However, Wantland announced that the courtroom was not conducive to the printing and the process would take an estimated five months to complete and cost “thousands upon thousands of dollars.”
The records will now be transported, in a secure fashion, to a professional copying firm in Tulsa where it is anticipated the work will be completed in three weeks.
Wantland said all parties have the right to be present during the copying.