PEMBROKE — The question of whether the chairman of the Lumbee Tribe has the authority to ban council members and others from tribal property may soon come before the Lumbee Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Gary Locklear told The Robesonian on Tuesday that he could not give his immediate opinion on whether Chairman Paul Brooks has the authority to ban Tribal Speaker Pearlean Revels from tribal property after she has been charged with taking financial documents from the Tribal Housing Complex.
“I can’t say anything about that,” Locklear said. “I expect that question will soon be before the court.”
Locklear said that he expects the question of the chairman’s authority to ban tribal members from tribal property will be addressed soon in a petition filed by Carvicous Barfield, chairman of the tribe’s Board of Elections, who was also banned from tribal property by the chairman. Although she has not yet petitioned the court for a hearing, Barfield has told The Robesonian that she intends to challenge the chairman’s action before the tribe’s five-member Supreme Court.
Brooks on Friday filed a temporary restraining order against Revels, just one day after she was accused of taking pages from the tribe’s general ledger. The restraining order also includes Councilman Terry Campbell, who was with Revels when the financial documents were taken.
Revels has been charged with misdemeanor larceny, according to a spokesperson for the Robeson County District Court. A court hearing has been set for Sept. 16. Campbell is not charged.
Revels has said she took about 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 recently reached between the tribe’s administration and council.
Revels said last week that she turned the documents over to Locklear. The judge on Tuesday confirmed he received the documents from Revels and turned them over to the Pembroke Police Department.
Revels says 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 have aggressively pursued the financial records they say are needed for them to perform financial oversight. The recently signed agreement between Brooks and the council requires that the chairman turn over certain financial records, including the general ledger, by this Friday.
Brooks has 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.
During a Supreme Court hearing on Aug. 12, Revels and Brooks signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing that the executive branch would provide the general ledger and the check registers from all tribal accounts, excluding “transaction descriptions,” by 1 p.m. this Friday.
Locklear told The Robesonian on Tuesday that the court order for the chairman to hand over the records to the council by Friday still stands.
“The order is an order,” the judge said. “As far as I’m concerned that order stands.”