The Judiciary is a separate, independent branch of the Pokagon Band government. The Tribal Court Judiciary consists of the Chief Judge, one Associate Judge, and three Appellate Court Justices. All members of the Judiciary are appointed by the Tribal Council to serve staggered four (4) year terms.
From left to right: Associate Judge David M. Peterson; Associate Justice Jill E. Tompkins; Former Chief Justice Robert T. Anderson; Chief Justice Matthew L.M. Fletcher; and Chief Judge Michael Petoskey.
Chief Judge Michael Petoskey (Grand Traverse Band)
Michael Petoskey (P37386) was appointed as the Pokagon Band’s first chief judge on February 14, 2002. Chief Judge Petoskey is a Grand Traverse Band member, a licensed Michigan attorney, and a Viet Nam veteran, serving as an infantry medic. He has been a judge for various Michigan Indian tribes since 1986. Chief Judge Petoskey began his judicial career with the planning, implementation and development of Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians Tribal Court, while he was a staff attorney for Michigan Indian Legal Services. He was the chief judge for his tribe for over 16 years until his retirement from the position. Chief Judge Petoskey’s career interest has been working with newly-reaffirmed tribes to plan, implement and develop their courts from just a dream. In 2006 he retired from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians after nine years service as chief judge after starting the court there. Chief Judge Petoskey recently retired as chief justice of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Court of Appeals, a position he has held from 1999 to 2009. In addition, he served as an associate justice of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan Court of Appeals from 2002 to 2006.
In 1992 the Michigan Bar Journal recognized Judge Petoskey as a Citizen Lawyer for his contributions in law to the tribal community. In 1997 he was named, along with eleven other attorneys, Lawyer of the Year by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, a legal newspaper. In 1999 the Grand Traverse Band Tribal Court was one of sixteen tribal programs nationwide honored as an outstanding example of tribal governance by The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In 2000 the American Indian Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan honored Judge Petoskey and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh with the section’s annual Tecumseh Peacekeeping Award for their leadership in moving State of Michigan courts and tribal courts away from conflict and toward cooperation.
Associate Judge David M. Peterson
David M. Peterson (P18834) is a graduate of Detroit College of Law. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Federal Bar. From 1985 to 1999, Judge Peterson served as a district judge of the Fifth District Court in Berrien County, Michigan. While on the bench, Judge Peterson was the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Berrien County Trial Court, chief judge of the District Court and was assigned as a circuit court judge under the Supreme Court Ordered Demonstration Project. Judge Peterson has served as a Neutral Election Official for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and as a Nottawasweppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi gaming commissioner before his appointment as the Associate Judge for the Nottawasweppi Huron Band in 2015. From 1970 to 1985, prior to becoming an elected judge, David Peterson worked in private practice in the areas of general criminal and civil litigation. Since retirement from the bench, Judge Peterson has resumed private practice on a limited basis primarily working in the areas of municipal law and governmental relations. He served as a Berrien County Commissioner from 1980 to 1985 and was chairman of the Board for two years.
Chief Justice Matthew L.M. Fletcher (Grand Traverse Band)
Matthew L.M. Fletcher is the Harry Burns Hutchins Collegiate Professor of Law at University of Michigan Law School. He teaches and writes in the areas of federal Indian law, American Indian tribal law, Anishinaabe legal and political philosophy, constitutional law, federal courts, and legal ethics.
Professor Fletcher also sits as the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, an appellate judge for the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, and the Tulalip Tribes. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band.
He previously taught at the Michigan State University College of Law (2006 to 2022) and the University of North Dakota School of Law (2004 to 2006). He has been a visiting professor at the law schools at the University of Arizona; the University of California, Hastings; the University of Michigan; the University of Montana; and Stanford University. He is a frequent instructor at the Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indian students.
He was lead reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law of American Indians, completed in 2022. He has published articles in the California Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and many others. His hornbook, Federal Indian Law (West Academic Publishing), was published in 2016 and his concise hornbook, Principles of Federal Indian Law (West Academic Publishing), in 2017. Professor Fletcher co-authored the sixth and seventh editions of Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law (West Publishing, 2011 and 2017) and both editions of American Indian Tribal Law (Aspen, 2011 and 2020), the only casebook for law students on tribal law. He also authored Ghost Road: Anishinaabe Responses to Indian-Hating (Fulcrum Publishing, 2020); The Return of the Eagle: The Legal History of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (Michigan State University Press, 2012); and American Indian Education: Counternarratives in Racism, Struggle, and the Law (Routledge, 2008). He co-edited The Indian Civil Rights Act at Forty with Kristen A. Carpenter and Angela R. Riley (UCLA American Indian Studies Press, 2012) and Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30 with Wenona T. Singel and Kathryn E. Fort (Michigan State University Press, 2009). Professor Fletcher’s scholarship and advocacy has been cited several times by the United States Supreme Court. Finally, Professor Fletcher is the primary editor and author of the leading law blog on American Indian law and policy, Turtle Talk, http://turtletalk.wordpress.com/.
Professor Fletcher worked as a staff attorney for four Indian Tribes: the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, and the Grand Traverse Band. He previously sat on the judiciaries of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; he also served as a consultant to the Seneca Nation of Indians Court of Appeals.
He is married to Wenona Singel, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and they have two sons, Owen and Emmett.
Associate Justice Jill E. Tompkins (Penobscot)
Jill Elizabeth Tompkins was appointed as an Associate Justice on the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Court of Appeals on February 14, 2002. Justice Tompkins is an enrolled member of Penobscot Nation, headquartered at Indian Island, Maine. Justice Tompkins serves as an appellate justice for the Passamaquoddy Tribal Appellate Court, the Mashantucket Pequot Court of Appeals, and as a judge pro tempore for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community Court of Appeals. She also served as the trial-level Chief Judge for the Passamaquoddy and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Courts and as an appellate justice for the Penobscot Nation Court of Appeals.
From 2001 to 2011, Justice Tompkins was a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado School of Law. She served as a Senior Director with Casey Family Programs Indian Child Welfare Program in Denver, Colorado. For several years, she conducted multidisciplinary trainings on the federal Indian Child Welfare Act for the State of Colorado and served on the Colorado Court Improvement Committee. Justice Tompkins has published articles on the Indian Child Welfare Act and co-authored A Guide for Tribal Court Law Clerks and Judges with Massey Mayo.
For many years, Justice Tompkins served on the Board of Directors for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) and became the first woman to serve as Association President from 2011 to 2015. NAICJA established the National Tribal Justice Resource Center in Boulder, Colorado in 2001 with Justice Tompkins serving as the founding Executive Director. She continues to speak frequently on tribal justice system and tribal child welfare topics.
Building on her experience as the Director of the Penobscot Nation Judicial System and a member of the Penobscot Nation Healing to Wellness Court Team, in 2018 Justice Tompkins joined the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians Court of Central Jurisdiction staff as the Court Attorney. She is leading the development of the Mille Lacs Band Healing to Wellness Court, Noojimo’wgamig Inaawanidiwag (Healing Journey).
A graduate of The King’s College, in 2006 she was named Alumna of the Year. Justice Tompkins earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Maine School of Law. She is the mother of three children, Tate Shibles, Elliott Shibles and Robin (Grace) Shibles.
Associate Justice Angela R. Riley (Citizen Potawatomi Nation)
Angela R. Riley (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Director of UCLA's Native Nations Law and Policy Center. She directs the J.D./M.A. joint degree program in Law and American Indian Studies and serves on the UCLA campus Repatriation Committee. Professor Riley's research focuses on Indigenous peoples’ rights, with a particular emphasis on cultural property and Native governance. Her work has been published in the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, Columbia Law Review, California Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal and numerous others. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma and her law degree from Harvard Law School.
Professor Riley began her career clerking for Chief Judge T. Kern of the Northern District of Oklahoma. She then worked as a litigator at Quinn Emanuel in Los Angeles, specializing in intellectual property litigation. In 2003 she was selected to serve on her tribe’s Supreme Court, becoming the first woman and youngest Justice of the Supreme Court of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma. In 2010 and again in 2016 she was elected by her tribe's General Council to serve as Chief Justice. She previously served as Co-Chair for the United Nations - Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership Policy Board, with a dedicated mission to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She has also served in a judicial capacity for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and for the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians.
Professor Riley is a member of the American Law Institute and a co-editor of the Cohen's Handbook on Federal Indian Law. She served as the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in Fall 2015.