General Council files suit against Legislature for not accepting meeting resolutions

By Ken Luchterhand

A lawsuit against the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature has been filed in the Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court of how it handled the Sept. 16, 2017, General Council meeting.
In dispute is if four resolutions should be accepted. The resolutions were voted upon after the meeting had an early adjournment and came back into session.
The Legislature voted on a resolution not to recognize those resolutions on the grounds that the General Council session had already adjourned and therefore were not legal.
On Nov. 15, 2017, the Office of General Council filed papers with the Trial Court, seeking to have the Legislature accept and act upon 10 of the 18 resolutions that were voted upon and approved by the quorum body of Ho-Chunk members present at the meeting.
According to the court papers filed, the annual General Council session was called to order on Sept. 16, with more than 20 percent of the eligible voters, or at least 1,086 members, present. After a chairperson was approved and a secretary was appointed, the floor was opened to accept resolutions.
A slate of 18 resolutions were proposed and scheduled to be on the docket to be discussed and voted upon. Of the 18 proposed resolutions, 10 were approved by vote.
After the General Council session, Hop-Chunk Nation Attorney General Amanda WhiteEagle issued a legal opinion of the 2017 General Council Actions. On Oct. 3, outside counsel for the Office of General Council, Daniel Finerty of Lindner and Marsack, provided a legal opinion as to the legality of the General Council resolutions.
Copies of the regular and condensed meeting transcripts were provided to Michael Murphy, Legislature counsel, on Oct. 6 and 10.
The Legislature subsequently considered and adopted a resolution, acknowledging that the 2017 General Council lawfully adopted all 10 resolutions that passed by voting at the General Council session.
“Nonetheless, the Legislature, by adopting the resolution, claimed that the meeting was ‘procedurally confusing in that a motion to adjourn was adopted by the General Council after Resolution H was approved, yet the Chairman of the meeting decided to continue the meeting,” the legal document stated.
“The Legislature, by adopting the resolution, concluded that ‘due to procedural problems with the 2017 General Council meeting, the Legislature deems it more reasonable to adhere to the first adjournment of the General Council on Sept. 16, 2017,’ which it nonetheless concluded complied with the General Council’s meeting procedures,” the legal document stated.
Therefore, the Legislature’s resolution was incorrect and reached the wrong procedural, factual, and legal conclusion for a number of reasons, the plaintiff stated in the document. By passing and adhering to the resolution, the Legislature has, and is, in breach of Article IV, Section 3(a) of the Ho-Chunk Constitution.
General Council issued a letter to the Legislature on Nov. 3, 2017. In it General Council requests Legislature to reverse course and to adopt the resolutions that were dismissed, being Resolutions J, K, L, and O, and to be included with all resolutions that were voted upon and passed during the 2017 General Council meeting.
The letter warned that legal action would be taken if no action on reversing the decision had taken place by Nov. 14. Since no action had been taken, General Council filed the complaint with Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court on Nov. 15.