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Pursuant to the authority vested in the Court by Chapter 8 of the Penobscot Nation Laws and Ordinances effective September 27, 1979, which provides “[the Tribal Court] will set up their own criteria for operating business,” the Court hereby orders the Court operations under the exigent circumstances created by the COVID-19 Coronavirus and related pandemic precautions.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance about the national outbreak of respiratory illnesses caused by the COVID-19 virus, a novel coronavirus. Both report that the spread of COVID-19 virus is a pandemic. The Pandemic/Infectious Disease Plan for the Penobscot Nation Tribal Court calls for the suspension of certain court activities during a pandemic/infectious disease outbreak.

In consideration of the pandemic resulting from the COVID-19 virus and the need to protect the public health, criminal and civil trials must be immediately suspended in the Tribal Court to reduce the number of people in the courthouse.

The Court finds that the ends of justice served by ordering the continuance of all criminal jury trials outweighs each defendant’s right to and the public’s interest in speedy indictment or trial. Therefore, the time period of the continuances implemented by this General Order will be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. §3161 (h)(7)(A), subject to the entry of an order addressing the same by the presiding judge in each case. Individual judges presiding over criminal proceedings may take such actions consistent with this General Order as may be lawful and appropriate to ensure the fairness of the proceedings and preserve the rights of the parties, particularly where defendants are detained pending trial.

The courthouse will remain closed to the public and will only hear time sensitive emergency matters. If you have any questions about whether you should go to the courthouse, please call the clerk’s office at  817-7327 .

Accordingly:

All in-person court events for family, civil and criminal dockets are continued. The court will schedule and only hear the following:

  • Arraignments and first appearances of defendants in custody
  • Motions for review of bail
  • Juvenile detention hearings
  • Protection from abuse requests and hearings
  • Protection from harassment requests and hearings
  • Child Protection petitions and summary preliminary hearings (including emergency guardianship and conservatorship matters) Attorneys are required to have discussions either telephonically or other electronic communication concerning waiver or other resolution of summary preliminary hearings at least 72 hours in advance of the hearing date
  • Mental health requests and hearings
  • Hearings granted on motion

If a party or the party’s attorney contends that there are urgent and compelling reasons that the court should hold the party’s criminal, civil, or family trial or hearing, the party or counsel shall immediately file a written motion, which must be served on the other party or parties, explaining why this particular case must be heard. If any party objects to the motion, it must file its written opposition within three days after the motion is filed. The court will rule on the motion expeditiously.