AG cites perjury in Freedmen case response
TAHLEQUAH – The attorney general’s office cites perjury as a reason why it’s asking the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition from two Tribal Councilors and six Cherokee Nation citizens challenging Freedmen citizenship.
In a Dec. 29 filing in the Cherokee Nation v. Nash and Vann v. Zinke case, the attorney general’s office states five of eight citizens listed in a Dec. 11 petition committed perjury and because so the petition should be dismissed and “the Court should take other appropriate action, including sanctions.”
“Council Member David Walkingstick, in his individual capacity, Twila Pennington, Randy White, Norman Crowe and Vicki Bratton all swore in notarized statements they ‘voted in the 2007 referendum election…to only allow citizenship in the Cherokee Nation only to people who are Cherokee by blood.’ They did not (vote),” states the response.
The response states Election Commission records show Walkingstick, Pennington, White, Crowe and Bratton did not vote in the March 3, 2007, election in which voters amended the Constitution to require Indian blood for citizenship.
The Cherokee Phoenix contacted the attorney general’s office regarding the perjury allegation, but was told “there is no further comment on the perjury allegation other than what has already been filed.”
Walkingstick said he voted in the election and that the records are incorrect. “In (20)07 I ran for council. I remember voting in that election. I know the records in the Election Commission, you know, they’re not always accurate.”
The 2007 general election in which Walkingstick’s name first appeared on the ballot was June 23.
Walkingstick added that he didn’t perjure himself.
“Perjury, the definition of perjury is getting up on the witness stand and putting your hand on a Bible and take an oath that you’re going to tell the truth and then getting up there and intentionally lying. That’s perjury,” he said. “This is a desperate attempt for (Attorney General) Todd (Hembree) to not face the consequences of him not adhering to his own AG Act. This has nothing to do with who voted or who didn’t vote in the (20)07 election. It has everything to do with the Cherokee Nation trying to uphold its Constitution.”
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, perjury is the willful assertion as to a matter of fact, opinion, belief, or knowledge, made by a witness in a judicial proceeding as part of his evidence, either upon oath or in any form allowed by law to be substituted for an oath, whether such evidence is given in open court, or in an affidavit, or otherwise, such assertion being known to such witness to be false, and being intended by him to mislead the court, jury, or person holding the proceeding.
In a Jan. 8 affidavit, Crowe states he voted in the election and that EC records are wrong.
John Parris, the petitioners’ attorney, spoke on behalf of those alleged of perjury stating they all “remember voting” in the election.
“The position of the interveners is that they remember voting and don’t know why the records are inaccurate,” he said. “The interveners hope that we get to the main issue and not deal with these side issues.”
In regards to the EC records being “wrong,” EC officials said they do “not feel it would be appropriate to comment” on litigation before the Supreme Court.
On Dec. 11, Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard, Kathy Robinson, Marcus Thompson, as well as the five accused of perjury, filed a petition as individual citizens against the CN and Hembree. It stems from Hembree’s decision not to appeal the District of Columbia District Court’s ruling to bind the CN to the 1866 Treaty and provide Freedmen “all the rights of native Cherokees,” including the right to citizenship. Freedmen are descendants of slaves once held by Cherokees.
The petitioners ask the Supreme Court to set aside its Sept. 1 order to enroll Freedmen as citizens and instruct the attorney general’s office to appeal the federal court ruling until the Tribal Council approves or disapproves of Hembree’s decision not to appeal.
According to the attorney general’s response, the petition should also be dismissed because its grievances against the CN and Hembree do not have “any basis in law or fact.”
“Movants fail to demonstrate a legally cognizable interest in the present action that establishes a right to intervene under Cherokee Law. Nonetheless, even if Movants can establish a right to intervene – which they cannot – the Court must dismiss the Writ of Mandamus because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction,” the response states. “Specifically, Movants fail to cite any jurisdictional statute which permits Movants to maintain a lawsuit against AG Hembree – an appointed official of the Nation that enjoys sovereign immunity from this type of suit. Moreover, Movants fail to establish standing to bring this action against AG Hembree and fail further to plead a claim for relief.”
The attorney general’s office also asks the court to maintain its Sept. 1 order by stating the request to continue litigating the case is “simply not available under Cherokee law.”
Walkingstick said, hypothetically, if the tribe doesn’t appeal the federal ruling the Constitution would still have to be amended. He said Cherokee voters could accept the ruling or “vote in contradiction to it.”
“The consequences are if the Cherokee people vote in contradiction to (federal) Judge (Thomas) Hogan’s ruling, or opinion, then federal program dollars could be frozen. Those are the consequences, and it just kind of depends what our Cherokee people want and, you know, me as being elected official, I take the Cherokee people’s voice very seriously,” he said.
According to the Sept. 1 order, the Supreme Court deemed the special election void and without effect.
Walkingstick said he’s “never taken a stance” on citizenship rights for Shawnees, Delaware, intermarried whites or Freedmen but that he did take an oath to uphold the Constitution.
“The disappointment in all of this is our Cherokee Supreme Court contradicted our own Constitution. That’s a catastrophe. The other catastrophe is our chief and our attorney general supports contradicting our Constitution,” he said. “If we were wanting to protect our Constitution to the highest degree possible we would appeal this decision, which that’s the highest degree we can go with in regards to what that outcome is. It may be favorable. It may not be favorable, but we can look our constituents in the face and say we did everything possible to uphold your voice.”