Governor Whitmer appoints first tribal citizen to Michigan Court of Appeals

The Governor made her announcement during the Tribal Summit in Sault Ste. Marie
Judge Allie Greenleaf Maldonado
Judge Allie Greenleaf Maldonado(WLUC)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 2:32 PM EST
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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WLUC) - Governor Whitmer announced her appointment of Judge Allie Greenleaf Maldonado to the Michigan Court of Appeals Tuesday, making her the first tribal citizen to be appointed to the court.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer attended the Tribal Summit in Sault Ste. Marie Friday. She met with tribal leaders to address shared priorities and continue an open dialogue between the State of Michigan and sovereign tribal governments.

“It was an honor to attend the Tribal Summit in the Sault,” said Governor Whitmer. “The State of Michigan and sovereign tribal nations must continue working together on our shared priorities and maintain an open, productive dialogue to get things done on the kitchen-table issues. I am committed to working alongside Tribal leaders to make a real difference in people’s lives and continue growing our economies. Our fortunes are linked, and we must collaborate to move our nations forward.”

Governor Whitmer announced her appointment of Judge Maldonado to the Michigan Court of Appeals, District 4. Judge Maldonado currently serves as the Chief Judge of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Trial Court. Judge Maldonado has also served as a pro tem judge for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Prior to her appointment as Chief Judge, she served as assistant general counsel for the LTBB tribe from 2002-2012. Following her graduation from law school, Judge Maldonado was selected as only the fifteenth tribal citizen to enter the prestigious honors program at the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). There she became a litigator in the Indian Resources Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. She later worked as a staff attorney for Monteau & Peebles, LLP.

Maldonado earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School, and she holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the City University of New York. Judge Maldonado is a nationally recognized expert on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA). She is active in the legal community outside the court room and is a member of the Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan, Anishinaabek Caucus of Michigan, Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan, Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, and the Michigan Justice for All Commission. She is also the treasurer for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Allie lives in Petoskey with her husband, Jay. She is a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and a member of the Turtle Clan.

“I am humbled and honored to be trusted by Governor Whitmer for this appointment to the Michigan Court of Appeals,” said Judge Maldonado. “I look forward to taking all of my professional experience and diligently applying it to the work ahead of me. This is a moment of importance not just for me, but for all of Indian Country as the Governor’s wisdom in this appointment sends a message about the critical importance of the work of tribal courts. I am grateful to the Governor and her team, and I look forward to giving all of Michigan my best.”

This appointment was made to fill a partial term following the retirement of Judge Amy Ronayne Krause, effective Dec. 13, 2022. Judge Maldonado’s term will begin Jan. 9, 2023 and expire at twelve o’clock noon on Jan. 1, 2025. If Judge Maldonado wishes to serve the remainder of Judge Krause’s term, expiring Jan. 1, 2027, she would be required to run for reelection in November of 2024.

Judicial appointments are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Governor Whitmer has appointed 44 Native Americans to judgeships, councils, boards, and commissions. One of those appointees, Bryan Newland, was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs last year, where he serves Native communities nationwide alongside Secretary Deb Haaland.