Tulalip Tribal Court
Chief Judge Theresa M. Pouley Retires
Tulalip News Article:
Tulalip Tribal Court Chief Judge Ronald J. Whitener
Ron J. Whitener is Chief Judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court, a Justice on the Northwest Intertribal Court of Appeals, the Chehalis Tribal Court of Appeals and the Upper Skagit Tribal Court of Appeals. From 2009 to 2013, Judge Whitener served as the Chief Judge for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. Judge Whitener is a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, located in South Puget Sound, where he grew up and continues to participate in treaty fishing and as the Squaxin Island Commissioner of Business Affairs. Judge Whitener worked for Squaxin Island in their Natural Resources Department prior to going to law school. He graduated from the University of Washington Law School in 1994 and returned to Squaxin as a tribal attorney representing the tribal government in treaty rights defense, tribal governance, tribal court development, gaming and other enterprises. In 2000, he joined the Northwest Justice Project’s Native American Unit in Seattle where he represented Native American clients in federal, state and tribal courts. In 2002, he joined the University of Washington Law School as an Assistant Professor where, with funding and support of the Tulalip Tribes, he formed the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic serving as public defender for several Western Washington tribes. Judge Whitener taught various courses in the fields of Indian law, mental health law and criminal law and was named Order of the Coif and Order of Barristers for his work in law and his experience as a courtroom advocate. He received funding from the MacArthur Foundation to implement culturally-informed projects in tribal juvenile justice in the areas of indigent juvenile defense and mental health issues. In 2009, he was named the Association of American Law School’s “Shanara Gilbert Emerging Clinician of the Year” and in 2011 he was named a “White House Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama for his advocacy for Native American clients. In May of 2014, Judge Whitener left the University of Washington to join the Tulalip Tribal Court.
Wendy A. Church, Tulalip Tribal Court Director
Wendy A. Church, is a Tulalip Tribal member, and earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice at Columbia College of Missouri and a master's degree in public administration with an emphasis in tribal governance from Evergreen State College (Her Master's capstone research paper was on The Resurrection of the Tulalip Tribes' Law and Justice System and its Socio-Economic Impacts). She also has a Legal Secretary/Assistant certificate from L.H. Bates Vocational-Technical Institute.
Wendy is currently employed as the Tulalip Tribal Court Director, and was previously employed with the Office of the Tulalip Tribes' Reservation Attorney as office manager for seven years, and three years as a Legal Secretary. Other employment included working at the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Puget Sound Agency, editor of the Tulalip Tribal newspaper (The See-Yaht-Sub), and the Small Tribes of Western Washington.
She is an alternate board member of the Northwest Intertribal Court System, and has membership to the following organizations: National Association for Court Management; Tulalip Tribes' Law and Justice Committee; and, the Northwest Indian Bar Association. She recently completed and graduated from the National Judicial College's Court Management for Tribal Court Judges and Personnel.