Press Release: February 8, 1999
Mr. Charles W. Shipley
Shipley, Jennings & Champlin
201 West Fifth Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Today a Motion for Partial Judgement was filed against Cherokee Chief Joe Byrd in the wiretapping case pending before Judge Brett in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. The Motion seeks to establish the liability of Chief Byrd for having used the illegally taped conversation of the plaintiff, Marvin Summerfield, and others. Summerfield is the publisher of the Cherokee Observer, a newspaper which has been highly critical of Joe Byrd’s administration.

“Joe Byrd has admitted that he listened to taped conversations of my client after Byrd had been repeatedly warned by his staff that the director of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation was illegally wiretapping Byrd’s political opponents. This violates the wiretapping statue. Joe Byrd has also admitted that after he knew, or should have known, that the taped conversations were illegally obtained, he repeatedly disclosed the contents of the taped conversations to others, including the press. These are additional and numerous admitted violations of the wiretapping act. We are actively pursuing further discovery which we believe will irrefutably establish the liability of the additional defendants in this case,” said Chuck Shipley, attorney for the plaintiffs in this matter.

In the Motion filed today, the “Statement of Material Facts as to which No Genuine Issue Exist” details the sworn testimony of Chief Byrd; Jennie Battles, ex-secretary-treasurer of the Cherokee Nation; Lisa Finley, ex-press secretary of the Cherokee Nation; and Dr. Charles Gourd, the Senior administrative liasion for the Cherokee Nation, who have stated in their depositions the facts that Shipley relies on to establish Chief Byrd’s liability for having used the allegedly illegal tapes and having allegedly disclosed the contents of those tapes in his frequent referrals to the alleged “conspiracy to overthrow Byrd’s administration.”

The case has not yet been set for trial, but a status conference on the case is set before Judge Brett for this Thursday, February 11.