from the Presque Isle office of Pine Tree Legal
As many readers know, this past year has been a time of transition in the Native American Unit at Pine Tree Legal. Here in the Presque Isle office, we have worked hard to insure that changes in staffing have not affected our ability to deliver services to our native clients. We continue to conduct outreach at the Micmac and Maliseet bands on a monthly basis. In addition, because of a (thankfully temporary) shortage in staffing state wide, Jeff Ashby of the Presque Isle office undertook to travel to the Passamaquoddy Tribal Court as needed to assist our native clients there. To do his work there, Jeff was sworn into the Passamaquoddy tribal bar. He reports he very much enjoyed his time in Tribal Court, and it was rewarding to work with the Passamaquoddy population. That said, Jeff will not miss the drive from Presque Isle to Pleasant Point and, although he hopes to visit Judge Irving and her excellent staff in the future, Jeff is thankful that attorney Sherri Mitchell will be undertaking most (but not all!) of Pine Tree Legal’s duties in the Passamaquoddy Court.
Recent cases handled in the Presque Isle office of Pine Tree included evictions at both Micmac and Maliseet. In those cases, where native families faced the possibility of losing their homes, attorneys for Pine Tree were able to negotiate with the landlord housing authorities for additional time for tenants to stay in their homes, or for a dismissal of the eviction outright. We have also seen and addressed cases where native parents faced termination of TANF benefits. For natives living on tribal land, there is an exemption to the rule that terminates those benefits after 60 months. If you have a case of this type, please do not hesitate to contact our office for help.
Lastly, we would like to express our congratulations to the newly elected (or re-elected) chiefs at Micmac and Maliseet: Edward “Charlie” Peter-Paul and Brenda Commander, respectively. Recently, attorney Ashby has had the opportunity to visit at length with each “new” chief. Our strong relationship with the returning Chief Commander goes back a long time, and we are confident from our warm discussion with Chief Peter-Paul that our new relationship with his office will be equally rewarding and beneficial.