The primary function of the judges is to resolve matters brought before the Tribal Court. The Meskwaki Tribal Court is a court of general jurisdiction, meaning that they hear both civil and criminal cases falling within their jurisdiction. Trial Tribal Court judges are recognized as having such authority as is needed to dispose of matters brought before them, ranging from setting the dates for trials and hearings, dispute resolutions, and holding parties in contempt or otherwise sanctioning them for improper behavior.
Jessica R. Bear, an enrolled member of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation), was appointed as the Chief Trial Judge of the Meskwaki Tribal Court on June 06, 2013. Prior to being appointed the Chief Judge, Judge Bear served approximately five years as an Associate Judge and one year as a Magistrate Judge. She has also served as needed as a pro tem Judge for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and as an Appellate Justice for the Round Valley Indian Tribes Court of Appeals in California.
Before entering the judiciary, Judge Bear served as one of three Gaming Commissioners for the Sac and Fox Gaming Commission in Tama, Iowa. She also worked for four years as a Staff Attorney for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, in Arizona, where she primarily focused on economic development and community development.
Judge Bear graduated from the University of Iowa with an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies and a Certificate in American Indian/Native Studies. She obtained her juris doctorate (J.D.) from the University of Iowa College of Law in May of 2000. She is licensed to practice law in the State of Iowa, State of New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation, and previously admitted to federal practice in the U.S. District Court District of New Mexico. She served two terms on the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa. She was recently selected to serve a Fourth term as a Region 5 Director for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) representing the regions of Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and is an At-Large Member for the NAICJA Executive Committee. Chief Judge Bear serves on the Iowa Children’s Justice Advisory Committee for the Iowa Supreme Court.
Judge Plumer, an enrolled member of the Leech Lake (White Oak Point/Mississippi) Band of Chippewa Indians, currently serves as an Associate Judge of the Meskwaki Tribal Court (Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa). He has served on the Meskwaki Judiciary since August 31, 2005, and has served in different capacities as Chief Judge and Associate Judge. Judge Plumer received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio in 1980. He graduated from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1983. Judge Plumer began his legal career as a staff attorney for the Anishinaabe Legal Services in Cass Lake, Minnesota. He has been in–house counsel for various tribes in Minnesota and is presently general counsel for Red Lake Band of Chippewa and White Earth Band of Chippewa. Joe formerly served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota. Joe is particularly proud of the good work at Regional Native Public Defense Corporation provides to Tribal members in northern Minnesota, and he is a founding board member of the organization.
Since November 1, 2002, Judge Plumer has been engaged in the practice of law in the Plumer Law Office, based in Minnesota, Judge Plumer is licensed to practice law in all state and federal courts in Minnesota, as well as the Tribal courts of Prairie Island, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, Upper Sioux, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, White Earth, and Bois Forte tribes. In addition to serving as Associate Judge for the Meskwaki Tribal Court, he serves as Chief Judge for the Pechanga Tribe in California, Special Magistrate for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s Tribal Court; Appellate Judge for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s Court of Appeals; and Administrative Law Judge for the Gaming Division of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Judge Plumer also previously served a four-year term as the Chief Judge of Meskwaki Tribal Court
Attention: In the interest of public health and safety, all jury trials will be continued until April 2022, and, if previously ordered by the Court, some Court hearings may be held by ZOOM due to the Covid-19 pandemic.