Office of Solicitor General

The Office of the Solicitor General (“OSG”) is one of three divisions that comprise the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), which also includes the Tribal Police Department and Band Member Legal Aid. 24 MLBSA § 1053. The DOJ functions “within the Executive Branch of Government,” and principally operates from offices located at the Government Center. 24 MLBSA § 1051. The Solicitor General serves as the administrative supervisor of the DOJ, and the managing supervisor of the OSG, consisting of six Deputies Solicitor General and two administrative staff members. 24 MLBSA § 1054(g, i).

The Solicitor General serves as lead Interior Legal Counsel of the Mille Lacs Band, and not solely as legal representative of the Executive Branch of government. 4 MLBSA § 16(a); 24 MLBSA § 1054(b). The Solicitor General is not considered an executive officer. 4 MLBSA § 4. Consequently, the Solicitor General does not sit on the Administration Policy Board. 4 MLBSA § 9(a). The Solicitor General nonetheless must adhere to the tribal Ethics Code due to his or her status as an appointed official. 6 MLBSA § 1153(a).

The OSG does not provide direct legal services to Band members, but rather represents the Band government and its employees, provided such individuals are acting in an official capacity. 4 MLBSA § 18(f); 24 MLBSA § 1054(b). The primary responsibility of the OSG is the objective interpretation, application, and enforcement of Band law. 4 MLBSA § 19(a-b); 24 MLBSA § 1054(f). The OSG maintains absolute independence in the performance of this obligation. 4 MLBSA § 18(b).

The authority of the Solicitor General finds its expression in several statutory titles, but principally in Titles 4 and 24, respectively entitled “Executive Branch” and “Judicial Proceedings.” The Solicitor General is responsible for representing the executive and legislative branches in the MLB Court of Central Jurisdiction. 2 MLBSA § 1108(b); 4 MLBSA § 16(a). This duty also extends within other courts of competent jurisdiction. 4 MLBSA § 18(a, c).

At times, tribal statute specifically denotes either the client or representational subject area of the OSG. 17 MLBSA § 13 (identifying specific duty to represent the Loan Committee before the Court of Central Jurisdiction); 18 MLBSA § 7 (identifying specific duty to represent the Corporate Commission before the Court of Central Jurisdiction); 18 MLBSA § 422 (identifying specific duty to represent the Administration Policy Board in matters regarding Indian Employment Rights); 22 MLBSA § 1(k) (identifying specific duty to represent the Commissioner of Finance in matters regarding taxation); 8 MLBSA §§ 16, 3122 (emphasizing prosecutorial role in the context of juvenile proceedings); 9 MLBSA § 28(a) (clarifying advocacy role in relation to the School Board); 11 MLBSA §§ 8, 18 (addressing ability to seek injunctive relief to abate environmental degradation); 10 MLBSA § 119 (conferring statutory standing to appeal a Federation Cultural Resources Board determination). The OSG additionally provides general legal advice and counsel. 4 MLBSA § 18(f); see also 4 MLBSA § 18(e) (assisting in the drafting and amending of governmental laws, orders and policies); 4 MLBSA § 18(b) (upholding tribal laws, orders, judgments, policies, and contracts). Certain particular functions are also set forth in tribal statute. 4 MLBSA § 18(e) (certifying and codifying Band ordinances); 6 MLBSA § 1 (regarding duty to periodically amend the personnel policies and procedures); 24 MLBSA § 3361 (regarding duty to develop boilerplate forms relating to per capita withholding); 6 MLBSA § 2005(a) (determining whether a former or current Band official may be entitled to indemnification); 7 MLBSA § 26(b)(2) (reviewing procurement contracts that exceed $5,000.00 in cost); 22 MLBSA § 211(b, f) (exercising oversight of tobacco sales licensure); 3 MLBSA § 27(b) (confirming appropriate form and execution of legislative orders).

In conjunction with the foregoing, the Solicitor General may formally issue presumptively binding legal opinions. 4 MLBSA § 18(d). A Solicitor General Opinion gains the force of law if the Band Assembly declines to annul the opinion, in whole or in part, within five (5) days after its receipt, provided that the tribal Judiciary does not subsequently issue a contrary judgment. 3 MLBSA § 17; 4 MLBSA § 18(d). The OSG otherwise routinely renders informal legal opinions upon the request of elected and appointed officials.

Solicitor General Opinions

Biographies



Todd R. Matha
Solicitor General

Date of Employment: May 2, 2011

Education:
Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
1991, B.A. History & Theology

University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN
1996, Juris Doctor

Experience:
Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court, Black River Falls, WI (Chief Justice, 2015-present)
Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court (Associate Justice, 2011-15)
Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court (Chief Judge, 2005-11)
Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court (Associate Judge, 1999-2005)
Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Justice (Assistant Attorney General, 1997-99)

OSG Practice Areas: Appellate, Contract, Criminal Prosecution, Election, Employment

Admissions: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Ho-Chunk Nation; State of Minnesota; U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota

Tribal Enrollment: Ho-Chunk Nation


Stacey A. Thunder
Senior Deputy Solicitor General/Legislative Counsel

Date of Employment: August 1, 2014

Education:
Hamline University, St. Paul, MN
1994, B.A. Psychology

William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN
1998, Juris Doctor

Experience:
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Red Lake, MN (Legal Counsel, 2005-2014)
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Corporate Commission (Staff Attorney, 2001-2005)
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians (Attorney, 1998-2001)
Indian Child Welfare Law Center, Minneapolis, MN (Law Clerk, 1998)

OSG Practice Areas: Legislative

Admissions: State of Minnesota

Tribal Enrollment: Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians


Angel E.A. Daher
Senior Deputy Solicitor General
Date of Employment: November 16, 2015

Education:
Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN
1998, B.A. Philosophy

Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, MN
2002, Juris Doctor

Experience:
Bruner Law Group, PLLC, Minnetonka, MN (Senior Attorney, 2015)
Aronson & Associates, P.A., Minneapolis, MN (Of Counsel, 2013-2014)
ICWA Law Center, Minneapolis, MN (Staff Attorney, 2004-2012)
Solo Practitioner, Minneapolis, MN (2002-2006)

OSG Practice Areas: Child Protection, Civil Litigation, Criminal Prosecution, Guardianship

Admissions: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, State of Minnesota

Tribal Enrollment: Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa


Trisha L. Enubuzor
Deputy Solicitor General

Date of Employment: August 26, 2013

Education:
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
2009, B.S. Criminal Justice

University of North Dakota Law School
2012, Juris Doctor

Experience:
Spirit Lake Nation Tribal Court, Ft. Totten, ND (Associate/Juvenile Judge, 2012)

OSG Practice Areas: Gaming Regulatory

Admissions: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; State of Minnesota; U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota

Tribal Enrollment: Spirit Lake Tribe


Adam L. Candler
Deputy Solicitor General

Date of Employment: November 2, 2015

Education:
Ripon College, Ripon, WI
2008, B.A. Global Studies

University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN
2015, Juris Doctor

Experience:
United States Army Reserve (2012-2015, Current Rank of Captain)

OSG Practice Areas: Housing & Community Development and Child Support

Admissions: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, State of Minnesota

Tribal Enrollment: Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa


Former Solicitors General

“The Solicitor General shall serve a four-year term of office commencing May 1, 1987, and on this date every four years hence.” 4 MLBSA § 17(b).



Rjay J. Brunkow
Appointed/Served Term: Nov. 27, 2006 – May 2, 2010
Education: University of Minnesota Law School, J.D. (2004)
Tribal Enrollment: Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (North Dakota).


John S. Swimmer
Appointed/Served Term: 2003-Mar. 27, 2006
Education: University of Wisconsin Law School, J.D. (1998)
Tribal Enrollment: Cherokee Nation (Oklahoma).


Mary Al Balber
Appointed/Served Term: 2002-2003
Education: Hamline University School of Law, J.D. (1990)
Tribal Enrollment: Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (Wisconsin).


Adam H. Altman
Appointed/Served Term: 1999-2000
Education: University of Minnesota Law School, J.D. (1998).


James M. Genia
Appointed/Served Term: 1993-1999
Education: William Mitchell College of Law, J.D. (1990)
Tribal Enrollment: Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Michigan).


James F. Pence
Appointed/Served Term: 1991-1993
Education: University of Minnesota Law School, J.D. (1971)
Tribal Enrollment: White Earth Band of Ojibwe (Minnesota).


Anita P. Fineday
Appointed/Served Term: 1990-1991
Education: University of Colorado Law School, J.D. (1988)
Tribal Enrollment: White Earth Band of Ojibwe (Minnesota).


Tadd M. Johnson
Appointed/Served Term: 1988-1989
Education: University of Minnesota Law School, J.D. (1985)
Tribal Enrollment: Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe (Minnesota).


Joshua J. Kanassatega
Appointed/Served Term: May 26, 1983-1987
Education: University of Washington School of Law, J.D. (1990).

Former Senior Deputy Solicitors General



Michael L. Hogan, Jr.

Date of Employment: May 6, 2013

Education:
Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH
2004, B.A. Political Science

William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN
2009, Juris Doctor

Experience:
Minneapolis American Indian Center (ICWA Court Monitor, 2011-2013)
Transport Designs, Inc., Burnsville, MN (Attorney, 2010)
Englemeier & Umanah, Minneapolis, MN (Clerk, 2009)

OSG Practice Areas: Child Protection, Civil Litigation, Criminal Prosecution, Guardianship

Admissions: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; State of Minnesota; U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota


Barbara E. Cole

Dates of Employment: February 21, 2007 – October 8, 2015

Education:
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
2002, B.S. Political Science & Women’s Studies

University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN
2005, Juris Doctor


Zachary H. Atherton-Ely

Date of Employment: February 13, 2012 – October 2, 2015

Education:
State University of New York, Geneseo, NY
2006, B.A. International Relations & Political Science

University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN
2009, Juris Doctor


Richard D. Osburn

Dates of Employment: July 2, 2007 – November 19, 2008

Education:
University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
1990, B.A. Spanish

University of Oklahoma College of Law
2000, Juris Doctor

Tribal Enrollment: Cherokee Nation


Treaty Protection

The Mille Lacs Band continues to adhere to its standing treaty obligations with the United States government. 2 MLBSA § 1001. The Solicitor General is entrusted with the responsibility of interpreting Band law as it relates to treaty rights, 2 MLBSA § 1108(a), and may initiate legal measures, including enlisting the obligatory assistance of the federal government, to protect these guaranteed usufructuary rights. 2 MLBSA § 1007. In particular, Band members, collectively and individually, maintain the “privilege of hunting, fishing, and gathering the wild rice, upon the lands, the rivers and the lakes included in the territory ceded” pursuant to the Treaty of 1837. Treaty with the Chippewa, July 29, 1837, art. 5, 7 Stat. 536, 537. Yet, “all treaties to which the Mille Lacs Band is a party shall have a status equal to the supreme law of all land under the jurisdiction of the Band.” 2 MLBSA § 1002.