Chief Judge – Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

JOB TITLE: Chief Judge                

DATE: May 14, 2024                                     

DEPARTMENT: Tribal Court                                                   

CLASSIFICATION: Full Time / Regular / Exempt            

SUPERVISES: Associate/Pro Tem Judges, Court Administrator/Magistrate, Specialty Court Coordinator, Probation Officers, Field Surveillance Worker                                      

REPORTS TO: Executive Director (non-judicial administration duties only)

JOB FAMILY: Management/Professional – Level VI           


UPON EXPERIENCE: $99,494 – $123,718 annually

CLOSING DATE: Open Until Filled


Sault Tribal Court

2175 Shunk Rd.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mi 49783



The Chief Judge is responsible for and oversees the administration of justice in the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court, the overall organization and administration of the Tribal Court and all of the programs operated by the Court.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS: (includes, but is not limited to, the following)

  • Conducts hearings and trials, presides over cases brought before the Court, and reviews legal briefs, arguments and evidence presented by the parties in litigation.
  • Conducts legal research on a variety of matters, applies the law to pending cases, and composes written opinions, decisions, and orders.
  • Oversees and monitors all personnel management activities, human resource processes, job restructuring and corrective action plans, hiring, firing, monitoring and evaluation of performance, approves leave and assigns and delegates responsibilities.
  • Sentences defendants in criminal matters, issues orders of disposition in juvenile delinquency matters, and monitors parents’ progress in child welfare matters according to enacted laws.
  • Oversees the writing, acquisition of, administration of, and monitoring of grants related to the tribal justice system, and in conjunction with various programs. 
  • Addresses non-compliance issues with staff to ensure corrective action.
  • Oversees, directs, plans, and implements departmental processes, policies, procedures, objectives, and activities to ensure continuing operations and to increase Court efficiency.
  • Represents the Sault Tribe at meetings, conferences, and forums and maintains ongoing relationships and cooperation with counterparts from State, Federal, and other Tribal jurisdictions.
  • Oversees the Court’s financial administration, financial and budget activities to fund Court operations, including budget review, budget development, and monitoring.                                                                              

ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES: (includes, but is not limited to, the following)

  • Negotiating or renegotiating contracts.                                                                     
  • Establishes rules of procedure on questions for which standard procedures have not been established by law or by a superior court.                                                            
  • Provides leadership and direction for tribal justice system planning.
  • Arbitrates disputes, advises counsel, jury, litigants or Tribal Court personnel.
  • All other job-related duties as assigned.                                                                    


Immediate peers, peers in other departments, immediate supervisor/manager, managers in other departments, executives, Board of Directors, customers, outside vendor/service providers, Federal, State and Tribal judges; Federal, State, and Tribal Law Enforcement officers, attorneys, lay advocates, and persons appearing before the court including government officials, plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses.


Position sedentary primarily sitting/lifting a maximum of 10 pounds. Physical factors include constant use of hearing, near/midrange/far vision, depth perception, color/field of vision; frequent standing, walking, sitting, typing and occasional carrying/lifting, pushing, reaching and manual handling, driving and bending. Working conditions include constant exposure to air quality; frequent exposure to noise and occasional exposure to weather, extreme cold and wet/humidity.  Potential hazards include constant computer use, frequent equipment use and occasional exposure to moving mechanical parts, electric shock, chemicals, insecticides/pesticides and patient/client contact. Protective equipment/clothing needed to perform job provided.


Education: Bachelor’s Degree in any field required. JD or PhD – Juris Doctorate Degree required.

Experience: Minimum of 10 years of experience as an attorney in legal practice required, prefer Tribal Courts, Tribal Law or Federal Indian Law experience.

Certification/License: Must be licensed by a State Bar Association.  Must be a member of the Michigan Bar Association or able to become a member within 120 days of hire.    Must have a valid driver’s license and be insurable by the Sault Tribe Insurance Department. Must comply with annual driver’s license review and insurability standards with the Sault Tribe Insurance Department.  Will be required to undergo and successfully pass a background check. Must maintain a good moral character standing. Will be required to complete and pass pre-employment drug testing.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: Knowledge of mission, organization plan, funding sources, laws, regulations and requirements of department required. Knowledge of fundamental subjects in law, legal research, civil & criminal court rules, and courtroom procedures required. Knowledge of research techniques and applicable sources, advanced problem-solving and analytical skills required.  Knowledge of governmental accounting required.  Knowledge of grant administration, documentation and reporting formats required.  Excellent organization, strategic planning, project management and governmental administration skills required. Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts and draw valid conclusions required.

Strong oral and written communication skills required. Financial administration and management skills required.  Research abilities required. Supervisory experience and excellent human resource management and leadership skills and abilities required. Excellent dispute resolution skills required. Must be able to maintain self-discipline and objectivity. Ability to engage in public speaking and presentations, conduct informal and formation meetings required. Must be able to maintain tact and dignity under stress. Must be able to work in a changing, dynamic, fast-paced environment.  Must maintain confidentiality. Native American preferred.

Governmental Sault Tribe Human Resource Department

2186 Shunk Road

Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783

(906) 635-4937

Toll Free (866) 635-7032

Fax (906) 635-4992