By Angel Ellis/Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma–The Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council Reps. phoned in for a Regular Council Session by teleconference on March 24. The Council considered a five page agenda with 36 orders of business to consider.
The teleconference option is now the standard due to CDC recommendations that ask gatherings of 10 people be temporarily avoided due to COVID-19. A well-stacked agenda including road improvements, Behavioral Health, Department of housing payments, gaming policy restricting age and the nomination of Jeremy T. Pittman as a District Court Trial Judge for the MCN were considered under the new call in protocol.
The meeting held over a conference call was live streamed on the MCN National Council website. The phone in option gave viewers of the live feed the ability to hear Council Reps as they made motions. Those making a motion identified themselves by name before making a motion and whenever they commented on discussion.
TR 20-070 A Tribal Resolution of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation nominating Jeremy T. Pittman to serve as a District Trial Court Judge of the District Trial Court Civil Division of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was sponsored by Patrick Freeman.
The legislation that was introduced by the Office of the Principal Chief, received a do pass status in the March 23 Business, Finance & Justice Committee.
The Civil Judge position is the third district court appointment for the Nation and if filled would be presiding over a lingering legal battle between the tribe and tribal citizen Steve Bruner. After appealing to the Supreme Court the former presiding judge was recused from the case.
The appointment of a special judge was recently brought to the Supreme Court but after consideration the decision was made to wait for judicial appointment because the allegations made against Bruner include another defendant, as well as multiple charges.
With the additional cases involved, MCN law dictates that a special appointment cannot take place.
Pittman’s appointment required a two-thirds approval from the full council. The vote tally for the measure had eight votes for the appointment and seven votes against, failing to draw the two-thirds majority.
Voting no on the legislation were James Jennings, Adam Jones III, Anna Marshall, Darrell Proctor, Lucian Tiger III, Mary Crawford and Joyce Deere.
Representatives William Lowe, Travis Scott, Robert Hufft, Joseph Hicks, Patrick Freeman Jr., Thomasene Yahola-Osburn, Charles McHenry and Mark Randolph voted in favor of Pittman’s nomination.
Mvskoke Media put out a request for comment to every council representative who was eligible to vote on the legislation.
Councilmen Lowe and Councilman Scott were the only members of the council to respond by deadline.
Representative Lowe said his voting to approve Pittman as judge was based on his qualifications and his reputation amongst his peers.
“When making my decision I based my vote on the fact that Pittman had experience, he had been doing the job…He knows the laws.” Lowe said. “He also came highly recommended by Judge Bigler, Judge Prescott, and Roger Wiley.”
Lowe said that being new to serving on council meant he relied on the opinion of Pittman’s peers.
Representative Travis Scott said his supporting vote of Jeremy Pittman’s nomination was based on Pittman’s proven integrity.
“I supported Jeremy Pittman for District Judge because of his proven integrity and the timely manner in which he handled the citizens needs in his court room,” Scott said. “Mr. Pittman did everything according to the laws of the Muscogee Creek Nation with all of his cases & evidence given in that case.”
Scott said he felt it is National Council member’s duty to answer for their votes regardless of approval or disapproval of legislation.
“I made my vote based on the performance of Jeremy Pittman with respect to the position, not personal feelings or someone influencing my vote.”