PEMBROKE — A Robeson County District Court judge this week dismissed misdemeanor larceny charges against Pearlean Revels, speaker of the Lumbee Tribal Council, saying the issue was in the wrong court system.
Restraining orders against Revels and Tribal Councilman Terry Campbell that forbid them from tribal property were also dismissed on Wednesday.
The temporary restraining order banning Revels and Campbell from tribal property was issued on Aug. 23, the day after she was accused of illegally taking 2,000 pages from the tribe’s general financial ledger from the tribe’s finance office, located in the Lumbee Tribal Complex on N.C. 711. The restraining order was issued at the request of Chairman Paul Brooks.
Chief District Court Judge J. Stanley Carmical found that the issue should be adjudicated in the Lumbee courts.
“The exercise of jurisdiction by this court plainly would interfere with the powers of self-government of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, would subject a dispute arising under the tribal constitution to a forum other than the forum that the Lumbee people have established for themselves, and would undermine the authority of the tribal court created by the tribal constitution to adjudicate such disputes,” Carmical said in his ruling.
Carmical said that the tribe’s constitution “expressly reserves” to the tribe’s Supreme Court “original jurisdiction over all cases and controversies arising under the Lumbee Constitution and all ordinances of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.”
Revels issued a statement late Friday afternoon declaring that the case of her stealing documents from the Lumbee Tribal Complex, filed against her by the tribal chairman, was resolved.
“He (Carmical) stated that the council had as much right to the information as did the chairman,” she said. “Council cannot be accused of stealing what was rightfully theirs from the start.”
Revels admitted that she took the 2,000 pages of documents from the office of Sharon Bell, the tribe’s finance director. Tribal administrators contend that the documents were being processed to be handed over to the Tribal Council under an agreement between the tribe’s administration and council.
Revels said she turned the documents over to Lumbee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Locklear. The judge confirmed that he received the documents from Revels and turned them over to the Pembroke Police Department. According to Revels, she took the documents after the chairman during a meeting with her to discuss the Supreme Court agreement became agitated and told her that the council was not going to get anything.
Revels, who is up for re-election to her District 3 council seat in November, has been a leader among council members who for months aggressively pursued the financial records they say are needed for them to perform financial oversight. The recently signed agreement between Brooks and the council required that the chairman turn over certain financial records, including the general ledger, by Aug. 31. The deadline was met.
Brooks had refused to supply the council with the tribe’s financial ledger, contending that giving them checks identifying who the tribe has purchased items and services from would violate privacy laws.