Michelle Demmert

NIWRC Speaker

Michelle Demmert, Tlingit, Eagle, Ḵaax̱ʼoos.hittaan clan and a current delegate and Chief Justice for the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, has worked in various capacities of advancing domestic violence protections for women and children since 1995. As the presiding judge at the Chehalis tribe for over 10 years, she assisted with amending code provisions that provided greater protections for women and children, as well as developing a court process that holistically addressed all participants. During this time, she also assisted the Northwest Tribal Court Judges’ Association with the creation of a bench book on processing domestic violence cases, establishing a full faith and credit process with the state for registering tribal Orders of Protection and participated as a significant contributor to a Tribal Prosecutor’s Pilot Project and Manual for best practices in this area.  As a judge, Ms. Demmert issued Orders of Protection as necessary for all member tribes of the Northwest Intertribal Court System, as well as presided over numerous criminal domestic violence cases, both bench and jury.  Ms. Demmert joined the Northwest Justice Project’s Domestic Violence unit for a brief time before being recruited to the Tulalip Tribes’ Office of Reservation Attorney, where she continues to work on a part-time basis.  While at the Tulalip Tribes, she was the primary author of their complete revision of the Domestic Violence code, which includes provisions for exercising Special Domestic Violence Court Jurisdiction (SDVCJ).  She has been the named primary point of contact for this process from the beginning, and continues to represent the Tulalip Tribes on the Intertribal Work Group for SDVCJ and has presented about this process at many tribal, state, federal and university forums, including a presentation to the Department of Justice staff during Domestic Violence Awareness month in October 2015.  She has provided testimony during the Office of Violence against Women’s (OVW) annual consultation on behalf of the Tulalip Tribes, as well as an individual Tlingit tribal member to bring awareness to Alaska specific issues.  She has volunteered with the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center during 2015 and presently, and has assisted Alaska Native villages with written testimony to OVW.  

Michelle is a graduate of the University of Washington for both her law degree and her BA in Psychology.  Michelle actively engaged in the Alaska commercial fishing industry prior to her practice of law.