After the passing of Cherokee Nation District Court Judge C. Bart Fite, the tribe has found someone to fill his position.

A resolution was passed naming Luke Barteaux as Fite's successor during a rules committee meeting Thursday. Committee resolutions must be passed at a meeting of the tribal council to be effected.

"With the untimely departure of Judge Fite, it leaves a huge hole in our court system," said CN Attorney General Todd Hembree. "We have a plethora of types of cases that can not wait."

As an attorney, Barteaux's practices have included divorce of marriage, family law litigation, child custody and visitation, adoption, juvenile law and many other areas.

In other business, the committee passed a resolution to reappoint Amber Lynn George as a board member of the Cherokee Nation Foundation. A resolution was passed to confirm the reappointment of Dan Carter as a board member of Cherokee Nation Businesses. Also, a resolution was passed confirming the nomination of Wilfred C. Gernandt III as a governing board member of the Nation's Comprehensive Care Agency.

During the reports portion of the meeting, Hembree and Chriss Nimmo, assistant AG, discussed with the committee the recent lawsuit filed against pharmacies and drug distributors.

Some of the committee member were concerned about possible fees that the Cherokee Nation would have to pay for use of outside attorneys, but Nimmo said there is no exchange of money happening in the case, only that the outside council is working on contingency fees.

Councilor David Walkingstick took part in the conversation.

"I have family members and friends that are addicted to pain meds that get them through our hospitals," he said. "My point is, we're pointing the finger and we're part of the problem."

Nimmo said she doesn't think the Nation is part of the problem, but part of the system.

"We believe the Cherokee Nation, for many years, has been on the forefront of attempting to restrict access to opioids, except in situations where they are medically necessary," she said. "It's been known that Cherokee clinics are not places that you can go if you just want to get some pain pills."

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