October 9, 2013
PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Supreme Court on Tuesday stripped Lumbee Tribal Council Speaker Pearlean Revels of her office and banned her from having anything to do with the tribe for at least five years.
The ruling came after a three-hour hearing on whether Revels violated an agreement between Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks and the council requiring the chairman to turn over certain financial records. Revels is accused of illegally taking the documents before the agreed deadline of Aug. 31.
The panel —Von Locklear, Tina Dicke, Garth Locklear and Wendell Lowery — found that Revels breached the agreement hammered out by the court. A fifth judge recused himself.
The judges ruled that Revels be removed from the Tribal Council and banned from participating in any future elections. Revels was up for re-election to her District 3 council seat.
The court also told tribal officials to remove Revels’ name or photograph from the walls of all tribal properties.
“There are no winners here tonight,” Judge Dicke said. “This is a very difficult decision that we had hoped we would not have to make.”
Revels declined to comment when reached by The Robesonian after the hearing.
The court also ruled that: Revels cannot serve on any tribal board, committee or appointed post; Revels is banned from all tribal property or visiting tribal-related events; Revels must immediately return any keys or access cards to tribal property; Revels must return all documents related to her position to the tribal administrator; Revels is prohibited from discussing tribal business with the media.
The court said that after five years, Revels can petition the court to have those privileges reinstated.
“Our Supreme Court has ruled and the administration will follow the ruling of the court,” Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt said in a statement.
Revels has admitted that she took 2,000 pages from the tribe’s general financial ledger kept at the tribe’s finance office at the Lumbee Tribal Complex on N.C. 711.
When asked why she could not wait for the documents to be released, Revels said that she thought Brooks would renege on the deal to turn them over. Revels said she took the documents after a meeting with the chairman to discuss the Supreme Court agreement. She said that Brooks became agitated during the meeting and told her that the council was not going to get anything.
Brooks had refused to supply the council with the tribe’s financial ledger, contending that giving them checks identifying who the tribe has purchased items and services from would violate privacy laws. Brooks turned over the documents to the council by the Aug. 31 deadline.
Before the hearing began, Lumbee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Locklear recused himself. Brooks in his petition questioned whether Gary Locklear could be impartial. He also said that the judge might be called to testify as witness.
Revels said she gave the ledger to Locklear. The judge confirmed that he received the documents from Revels and turned them over to the Pembroke Police Department.
Revels represented District 3 and was seeking her second term in the upcoming elections. Her departure leaves Alton Locklear Jr. and Rene Kerns as the remaining candidates for the seat.
The elections, which had been scheduled for Nov. 12, are in limbo because of a dispute over how they will be paid for between the Elections Board and the tribal administration.
There is a tribal hearing on the elections funding tonight.
Scott Witten works for Civitas Media as the editor of The St. Pauls Review and The Red Springs Citizen.