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 to the Solicitor General and two administrative staff members. 24 MLBSA § 1054(g, i).
The current Solicitor General is Caleb Dogeagle.
About the Office of Solicitor General
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.
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.
Treaty with the Sioux & Chippewa (Treaty of Prairie du Chien, Aug. 19, 1825, 7 Stat. 272)
Treaty with the Chippewa (Treaty of Fond du Lac, Aug. 5, 1826, 7 Stat. 290)
Treaty with the Chippewa (Treaty of St. Peters, July 29, 1837, 7 Stat. 536)
Treaty with the Chippewa (Treaty of La Pointe, Oct. 4, 1842, 7 Stat. 591)
Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi & Lake Superior (Treaty of Fond du Lac, Aug. 2, 1847, 9 Stat. 904)
Treaty with the Chippewa (Treaty of Washington, Feb. 22, 1855, 10 Stat. 1165)
Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi & the Pillager & Lake Winnibigoshish Bands (Treaty of Old Crossing, Mar. 11, 1863, 12 Stat. 1249)
Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi & the Pillager & Lake Winnibigoshish Bands (Treaty of Old Crossing, May 7, 1864, 13 Stat. 693)
Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi, Mar. 19, 1867, 16 Stat. 719