Judge Nottawaseppi Huron Potawatomi Melissa L. Pope Receives American Bar Association Award


Her Excellency Melissa L. Pope, Chief Justice of the Nottawaseppi Huron Division of the Potawatomi Tribal Court (NHBP), received the 2023 Judith S. Kaye Award for Judicial Excellence during a ceremony at the American Bar Association in Denver.

This award recognizes the dedicated service of judicial officers who demonstrate knowledge of domestic and sexual violence and exemplary leadership in developing courtroom responses to these cases.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be selected by the American Bar Association’s Committee on Domestic and Sexual Violence to receive the Judith S. Kay for Judicial Excellence”.

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Since her appointment as Chief Justice of the Nottawaseppi Huron Division of the Potawatomi Tribal Court, she has been involved in NHBP’s efforts to address the epidemic of violence against Indigenous people.

As a delegate to the Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group on Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (ITWG) and the NHBP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Enactment Team, Justice Pope worked collaboratively with NHBP staff to develop the infrastructure, programs and services needed for domestic violence law adoption that includes jurisdiction restoration under the Violence Against Women Act.

She has served in the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Court since February 2011. Judge Pope was reappointed to a four-year term in December 2022. In addition, she has also served in an elected position as Chief Justice of the Little River Band of Tribal Court of Appeals for the Ottawa Indians since 2009. In addition In addition to her duties as a judge, she has been teaching American Indian law as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law since 2007.

“Receiving this award not only reminds me of the next seventh generation that I must work to protect so that violence does not touch their lives, but also fills my heart with gratitude for the seventh generation that preceded me and who sacrificed so many – so many in their lives – so that I could Doing this work today.” “I honor all those who have worked, are working, or will work in the future to end the violence that permeates the lives of Indigenous peoples, tribal nations, and indigenous communities.”

Judge Pope has been actively involved in the anti-violence movement throughout her life.

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