Maldonado becomes first Tribal citizen named to Michigan Court of Appeals


Photo courtesy of Governor Whitmer Administration

On Tuesday,? Gov. Gretchen Whitmer attended the Tribal Summit in Sault Ste. Marie where she announced her appointment of Judge Allie Greenleaf Maldonado to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Maldonado will be the first Tribal citizen ever appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals. 

Maldonado currently serves as the chief judge of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Trial Court. Maldonado has also served as a pro tem judge for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Prior to her appointment as chief judge, she served as assistant general counsel for the LTBB tribe from 2002-2012. Following her graduation from law school, Maldonado was selected as only the 15th tribal citizen to enter the prestigious honors program at the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). There she became a litigator in the Indian Resources Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. She later worked as a staff attorney for Monteau & Peebles LLP.  

Maldonado earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, and her Bachelor of Science in Business from the City University of New York. 

 Maldonado is a nationally recognized expert on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA). She is active in the legal community outside the court room and is a member of the Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan, Anishinaabek Caucus of Michigan, Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan, Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, and Michigan Justice for All Commission, and the treasurer for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.  

"I am humbled and honored to be trusted by Gov. Whitmer for this appointment to the Michigan Court of Appeals,” said Maldonado. “I look forward to taking all of my professional experience and diligently applying it to the work ahead of me. This is a moment of importance not just for me, but for all of Indian Country as the Governor’s wisdom in this appointment sends a message about the critical importance of the work of tribal courts. I am grateful to the Governor and her team, and I look forward to giving all of Michigan my best." 

Frank Ettawageshik, executive director of United Tribes of Michigan and a member of the Little Traverse Band’s appellate court, called the appointment of Maldonado “an important step for Judge Maldonado, the court and Native Americans.” 

“Allie is eminently qualified for this important position. She has a deep understanding of the law, including the sometimes misunderstood but vitally important role of Native American tribes as sovereign nations under our system of justice,” said Ettawageshik. “This will give her an opportunity to expand her constituency from our tribal members to the entire state. She is a worthy addition to the Michigan Court of Appeals.” 

This appointment was made to fill a partial term following the retirement of Judge Amy Ronayne Krause effective December 13, 2022. Maldonado’s term will commence on January 9, 2023 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on January 1, 2025. If Maldonado wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Krause’s term, expiring January 1, 2027, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2024.  

Judicial appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Whitmer also met with Tribal leaders to address ?shared priorities and continue an open dialogue between the State of Michigan and sovereign tribal governments.

“It was an honor to attend the Tribal Summit in the Sault,” said?Whitmer.?“The State of Michigan and sovereign tribal nations must continue working together on our shared priorities and maintain an open, productive dialogue to get things done on the kitchen-table issues. I?am committed to working alongside?Tribal leaders to make a real difference in people’s lives and continue growing our economies. Our fortunes are linked, and we must collaborate to move our nations forward.”?? 

“We are pleased to host today’s summit between the state’s tribal communities and Gov.? Whitmer,” said Austin Lowes, vice chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “It is fitting we hold this meeting in Sault Ste. Marie, a major gathering place for tribes and their leaders for hundreds of years. Each tribe had an opportunity to discuss individual issues with the governor and her staff, and we expressed support for continued meeting, expanded consultation on key matters and a higher profile for tribal matters during our general session with the governor.”  

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