Court eases sanctions on ex-speaker

First Posted: 4/3/2014

PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Supreme Court has amended an earlier court ruling in order to reduce the severity of sanctions levied against former Lumbee Tribal Council Speaker Pearlean Revels.

In a court order filed Thursday by Chief Justice Gary Locklear, a ban against Revels being involved in any tribal activities for at least five years is lifted. A sanction that she also be banned from tribal headquarters for five years will also be lifted if she returns all tribal property in her possession within the next 10 days and “uses her best effort to return all copies of documents wrongfully removed from tribal headquarters” within the next 30 days.

The decision, according to the court order, was not unanimous.

The five-member Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on a petition filed by former Tribal Councilman Welford Clark, Wendy-Moore Graham and Sam Kerns claiming that the court acted “unconstitutionally” when it banned Revels. Clark argued that he believed Revels’ rights as a Lumbee were violated because proper channels were not followed to hear her case. He also said that the court’s decision violated the Lumbee Constitution by not allowing the Lumbee people to decide if Revels should be removed from public office.

Revels was found in contempt of court, removed from the Lumbee Tribal Council, and banned from all tribal property and participation from any tribal activities after being accused of stealing documents from tribal offices in August 2013. She admitted to removing a copy of a general ledger and other financial documents that she thought were being prepared for council as part of a memorandum of understanding that the tribal administration, led by Chairman Paul Brooks, would release the documents to members of the council by Aug. 30, 2013.

“I’m just glad this is all over,” Revels told The Robesonian on Thursday. “I’m just going to put all of this behind me and move on.”

Revels said that she plans to meet all requirements of the revised court order.

“I’ll do my best to get back all the copies of the documents that were made,” she said.

Revels, who was planning to seek re-election to the Tribal Council last November, said she is not “closing the door” to the possibility of running for a seat on the council in the future.

“I’m happy she can now again enjoy the privileges of participating in activities of the tribe, but Pearlean was done irreparable harm when she was removed from office and not permitted to seek re-election,” said Clark, who now serves as a judge on the Lumbee Tribe Administrative Court. “She now has gotten some of the justice she deserves, but she didn’t get due justice.”

On Thursday, Locklear also filed the court’s unanimous ruling that a council-passed ordinance that allows the council to establish limits on judicial authority and override court decisions is unconstitutional. The council ordinance was passed after the court levied the sanctions against Revels.

The court also heard arguments Monday on the petition asking that sections of the council-passed ordinance be struck down. This petition was also filed by Clark, Moore Graham and Kerns.

Clark said Thursday that he thinks the court went too far in its decision that the entire ordinance establishing limits on judicial authority be ruled unconstitutional. He said that legislative bodies do have some authority over how the judiciary can act, citing fair sentencing guidelines established by state and federal governments.