Sunday, January 20, 2019

Eagle Butte
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy

CRST court welcomes new judge

The Honorable Danielle Ta’Sheena Finn is the new Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Healing to Wellness Court judge.

Finn (Wicaphi Sakowin Win), originally from the Porcupine District of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, was sworn in on May 8, 2018 at the CRST Civil Courts by Chief Judge Brenda Claymore.

Before attending law school, Finn served as an intern for U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), the first Native American Indian to do so. During law school Finn practiced law pro bono, advocated for voters’ rights, and worked on family law and human rights issues.

Finn will continue to work full-time as the external affairs coordinator for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but plans to work one or two days presiding over Healing to Wellness Court cases.

Finn says she is excited about her new role.

“I have represented clients and was slowly learning to be a judge. I’ve always been on the other side of the bench, now it’s exciting to be on this side helping our people,” Finn said.

After spending years studying law in the southwest, Finn earned her Juris Doctorate Degree from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. She then made the decision to move back to North Dakota.

“Moving back home has been exciting. Working for the people feels good. It’s good to be back and see familiar faces,” Finn said.

These faces include her familial connections to Cheyenne River– her father has worked at the CRST WIC office for over 20 years, and Finn says she has relatives, including her sister, who are CRST tribal members.

The Healing to Wellness program is relatively new and serves as a diversion program for those facing non-violent alcohol and drug-related charges. Healing and sobriety are the goals for those who enter the program.

“I really believe in this program. The criminal court system is really bogged down. Try our program out. If you get into a bind with substance abuse and alcohol-related charges, we are here for you,” Finn said.