Band Member Legal Services

Temporary contacts for Band Member Legal Services are as follows:

Kerri Johnson
Alan Shepard
Peter Nickitas
Diane Poss
Shannon Nayquonabe
Amelia Opager

(Managing Attorney)
(Staff Attorney)
(Staff Attorney)
(Staff Attorney)
(Paralegal)
(Civil Case Support Manager)

320-232-7731
320-232-7732
651-238-3445
320-232-7730
612-280-9617
320-532-7798

kerri.johnson@millelacsband.com
alan.sheppard@millelacsband.com
peter.nickitas@millelacsband.com
diane.poss@millelacsband.com
shannon.nayquonabe2@millelacsband.com
amelia.opager@millelacsband.com

Phone for criminal court contact: 612-280-9617
Phone for civil court contact: 320-630-2122

Power of Attorney/ Delegation of Parentage paperwork will need to be sent directly from the individual giving powers to the person receiving the powers.

Please contact the county/state court administrator before you head out to any court appearances. The courts have continued to hold all hearings via zoom with the exception of a few specific case types. All notices will be mailed to your last known address.

Please call the Tribal Court directly for any Tribal Court updates and appearance information. 320-532-7400

Court Transport is available for the limited in person appearances that are scheduled. Please contact 320-279-0054 to schedule a transport. You must schedule an appointment in advance of your court hearing to ensure transportation is available. ALL riders MUST wear a mask at ALL TIMES while inside the transport vehicle.

We have four full-time attorneys available to go to court, provide legal advice, answer questions, and resolve cases on behalf of clients. We also have one full-time paralegal, and two full-time administrative staff who can answer questions and provide assistance, including notary services. Please be aware that our administrative staff CANNOT provide legal advice.

Our office has recently added a civil case support manager to the team. This position provides assistance to our families that are involved in child protection matters. The civil case support manager will assist our families with case plan management, access to supportive services, and weekly contact with our families to ensure that Band Member families have knowledge and access to available programs to assist with reunification of Band Families.

We do not accept all cases. We have the right to deny service based upon the criteria of the case and the client.

We are unable to accept any cases regarding drug sales or 1st and 2nd degree possession.

Band Member Legal Services was established in 2009 to serve the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Community. BMLS provides free civil and criminal legal services to enrolled members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

We have two full-time attorneys available to go to court, provide legal advice, answer questions, and resolve cases on behalf of clients. We also have one full-time paralegal, and two full-time administrative staff who can answer questions and provide assistance, including notary services. Please be aware that our administrative staff CANNOT provide legal advice.

We do not accept all cases. We have the right to deny service based upon the criteria of the case and the client.

According to a resolution passed by Band Assembly in 2015, we are unable to accept any cases regarding drug sales or 1st and 2nd degree possession.

A Bill amending Title 24 of the Mille Lacs Band Statutes for the purposes of removing Mille 3 Lacs Band Legal Services (“Legal Services”) from the administrative control of the Solicitor 4 General for the purpose of eliminating the inherent conflict of interest involved in having the 5 prosecution control the budget and personnel of the defense, establishing Legal Services as an 6 independent entity, creating the board of directors of Legal Services, mandating that Legal 7 Services not represent Band members for crimes against other Band members and for drug 8 crimes, and clarifying that the Court of Central Jurisdiction has original jurisdiction over all 9 causes of action arising from 24 MLBS Chapter 2.

If you are seeking legal representation, advice, or brief services please contact 320-532-7798 to complete an intake. All individuals seeking assistance must complete an intake.

Please contact Band Member Legal Services as soon as you know that you have a legal matter that you need assistance with. Please contact Band Member Legal Services within 24 hours of a child protection matter that has resulted in your children being removed from your care.

For an appointment or more information, call 320-532-7798. We are open Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, except from noon to 1. The office is closed for all Band holidays.

43408 Oodena Drive
Onamia, MN 56359

Office Line: 320-532-7798
Fax: 320-532-5135

Urban Office (Appointment Only)

1404 E Franklin Ave
Minneapolis, MN

320-532-7798

Band Member Legal Services provides representation on criminal and traffic cases in Tribal Court and in Aitkin, Crow Wing, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, and Pine Counties, and civil cases in Tribal Court and in Aitkin, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, and Pine Counties.

Band Member Legal Services contracts with attorneys for conflict civil cases and ALL Mille Lacs County criminal cases except those that are excluded pursuant to ordinance 17-01-84-16.

TYPES OF CASES

  • Family Law (divorce and custody/visitation)
  • Child Protection (CHIPS)
  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Housing
  • Public Benefits (denial or termination of benefits, social security)
  • Consumer Law and Debt Collection
  • Estate Planning
  • Probate
  • Elder Law (health care directives, powers of attorney, estate planning, probate, guardianships, grandchild adoption/guardianship/custody, Indian trust land/accounts)
  • Criminal Law
  • Child Protection
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Truancy

CASES WE CANNOT ACCEPT

  • Suing another Band member for money damages
  • Personal injury
  • Bankruptcy
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Employment discrimination
  • Wrongful termination
  • Cases in federal court
  • Commitments
  • Criminal or civil cases outside our service area
  • Drug sales
  • 1st and 2nd degree possession

NOTARY SERVICE

We provide notary services at no cost to Band members during business hours or by appointment. If you need a document notarized, please bring a photo ID and the document that needs to be notarized. Please be aware we CANNOT notarize your signature without a photo ID.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR LEGAL SERVICES?
We provide services to enrolled members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

WHAT IS THE COST OF LEGAL SERVICES?
Legal services and representation are free to Band members. Clients do have to pay certain expenses associated with their case, such as court filing fees, fines, service of process, and other court-related fees. Some fees can be waived by the Court based on income.

I AM A BAND MEMBER BUT I DON’T LIVE IN THE AREA. CAN YOU REPRESENT ME?
We handle cases in following service area:

  • Criminal Case Service Area: Tribal court, Aitkin, Crow Wing, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Hennepin, and Ramsey Counties
  • Civil Case Service Area: Tribal court, Aitkin, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Pine, Hennepin, and Ramsey Counties

WHERE IS THE BAND MEMBER LEGAL SERVICES OFFICE LOCATED?
Our office is located in District I at the intersection of Virgo Road and Ojibwe Drive. Our mailing address is 43408 Oodena Drive Onamia, MN 56359. We also are available by appointment at our urban office, located at 1404 E Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.

WHAT TYPES OF CASES DO YOU ACCEPT?

  • Criminal and traffic cases
  • Family cases (divorce, custody/visitation, paternity, adoption)
  • Child Protection (CHIPS)
  • Housing (landlord/tenant)
  • Public Benefits (denial or termination of benefits, social security)
  • Consumer Law and Debt Collection
  • Estate Planning
  • Probate
  • Elder Law (health care directives, powers of attorney, estate planning, probate, guardianships, grandchild adoption/guardianship/custody, Indian trust land/accounts)

WHAT TYPES OF CASES AREN’T ACCEPTED?

  • Suing another Band member for money damages or due to harassment
  • Personal injury
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Workplace discrimination
  • Wrongful termination
  • Cases in federal court
  • Criminal or civil cases outside our service area
  • Drug sales
  • 1st and 2nd degree possession

I THOUGHT YOU WERE CALLED INDIAN LEGAL. WHY THE NAME CHANGE?
Band Member Legal Services was established in 2009 to address the growing need for a permanent full-time staff of attorneys working on the legal needs of Band members. The Band no longer contracts with Indian Legal Assistance, which is a separate organization that continues to provide legal services for low-income individuals in Northern Minnesota.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOURS?
We are open Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, except from noon to 1. The office is closed for all Band holidays. During inclement weather, please call 1-800-709-6445 to determine if the Government Center is closed or is opening late. If the Government Center is closed due to weather, BMLS will also be closed.

DISCLAIMER

LEGAL INFORMATION ONLY
This website was created for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide legal advice or form an attorney-client relationship. Legal advice is dependent on the unique circumstances of your situation. Deadlines are extremely important in most legal matters. You may lose important legal rights if you do not hire an attorney immediately to advise you. If in doubt, please call BMLS at 320-532-7798.

LAWYER ADVERTISING
In some jurisdictions this website may be considered lawyer advertising. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Any listing of an attorney does not constitute a recommendation of the attorney. Before hiring any attorney, you should investigate the attorney’s reputation and qualifications.

LINKS
This website may contain links to other resources on the Internet. Those links are provided help you identify and locate other resources that may be useful, and are not intended to state or imply that we sponsor or are affiliated or associated with the persons or entities who created the site, nor are the links intended to state or imply that we are legally authorized to use any trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the links.