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Chief Judge - NEW 

Category Administration  

Chief Judge, Lower Elwha Tribal Court

SUMMARY: The Chief Judge is chief judicial officer of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Court, the trial court of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. The Chief Judge is appointed to a four-year term by the Lower Elwha Business Committee, the elected governing body of the Tribe. This position is responsible for fairly and impartially hearing and deciding judicial matters within the jurisdiction of the Lower Elwha Tribal Court pursuant to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Judicial Code, ordinances, regulations, and applicable Federal and local laws. The Chief Judge conducts hearings and trials and performs other judicial duties. The Chief Judge is also the administrative supervisor of all Tribal Court staff and as such is responsible for the efficient and effective operation of all aspects of the Lower Elwha Tribe’s trial-court-level judicial system and for proper administration of justice. The Chief Judge has no direct authority over the Lower Elwha Court of Appeals, which consists of Justices appointed by the Business Committee under contract.

LOCATION: Lower Elwha Klallam Justice Center

SUPERVISOR: Executive Director

WORK SCHEDULE: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

SALARY LEVEL: To be determined, depending on experience.

POSITION STATUS: Regular, fulltime, with benefits.

OPENING DATE:  Open Until Filled



  • Oversees the administration of the Judicial Branch, which includes the management of operations, budget planning, and submits annual judicial budget to Business Committee and funding agencies.
  • Exercises independent professional judgment in deciding cases and controversies properly filed before the Tribal Court.
  • Oversees Pro Tem judges and any Associate Judge that may be appointed, and supervises all Court staff.
  • Issues warrants, subpoenas, judgments, commitments and other legal orders, opinions, and documents.
  • Presides over all civil, juvenile, and criminal cases and other matters arising under the Tribe’s codes and ordinances, including potentially other alternative, traditional, or restorative approaches to resolution of cases.
  • Develops and implements court policy and procedures manual, rules of court, and forms, and where appropriate, recommends enactment of tribal codes and legislation.
  • Maintains professional education and interaction at meetings/conferences to stay current with changes in the law and current trends.
  • Represents the Tribe’s judicial system before the Business Committee and local, County, State, and Federal agencies.
  • Oversees all Court staff, to develop, administer, monitor, and effectively manage the judicial budget, including grant program management or other grant-related duties.



  • Section 1.8 of the Lower Elwha Judicial Code provides that any Judge must be: a) at least 21 years old; (b) of good moral character; (c) able to read and write English well; (d) knowledgeable of tribal law, customs, and traditions, or willing to become knowledgeable; and (e) trained in, and willing as needed to undertake additional training in, law and legal procedures. The Chief Judge need not be a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe but preference will be given to those who are a member of a tribe or have lived or worked in a tribal community. A copy of the Tribe’s Judicial Code is available with the application for this position.
  • Knowledge of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Constitution and Code, Indian Civil Rights Act, Indian Child Welfare Act, and other ordinances adopted by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
  • Knowledge of Federal, State and Tribal Court procedures which may be useful in hearings and deciding cases.
  • Must possess a J.D. degree from an accredited law school and be a member in good standing of a state or tribal bar.
  • Minimum four years’ judicial experience, but will also consider experience in the practice of law, preferably at the trial court level, or other law-related field that demonstrates strong potential for judicial decision-making.
  • Must have demonstrated experience in exercising sound professional judgment without bias or favoritism.
  • Must possess strong oral and written communication skills. A writing sample that displays critical analytical and decision-making skills must be submitted as a crucial element of the application.
  • Ability to understand and analyze legal issues, principles, and doctrines in order to decide cases and controversies.
  • Able to understand and maintain confidentiality of communications.
  • Must have experience in management and an understanding of basic office skills.
  • Ability to work cordially and effectively with staff and the public, including under stressful situations.
  • Must be dependable and trustworthy.
  • Must be computer literate and capable of performing internet research.
  • Must pass a background check and never have been convicted of a felony, as well as having no conviction of a serious misdemeanor within the previous four years.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license.
  • Submit to and pass a pre-employment drug/alcohol screening.
  • Must be able to comply with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe policies and procedures, including Drug Free Workplace requirements.


  • Experience working in Indian Country, particularly in a tribal legal system.
  • Experience working in criminal law and in child dependency matters.
  • Experience in negotiation and mediation, alternative dispute resolution, and problem-solving courts.
  • Knowledge of the culture and traditions of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.


  • Ability to sit for an extended period, as well as stand, bend, reach, and climb stairs.
  • Ability to lift up to 25 pounds.
  • Ability to operate standard office equipment, including computer, printer/copier/scanner/fax, calculator, tape recorder, landline phone, cell phone.


Mail: Human Resources Department
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
2851 Lower Elwha Road
Port Angeles, WA 98363

As with all positions at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, this position is subject to Indian preference in hiring, in accordance with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Employee Handbook.


Position Requirements  
Full-Time/Part-Time Full-Time  
Shift -not applicable-  
Close Date  
Number of Openings 1  
Open Date 2/2/2023  
Location Justice Center  
About the Organization Information ---- about Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe  

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