Lawyers agree on speedup for Fighting Sioux appealBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Lawyers in the appeal of a lawsuit over the possible retirement of the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname have agreed to be ready for state Supreme Court arguments by March 22.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Lawyers in the appeal of a lawsuit over the possible retirement of the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname have agreed to be ready for state Supreme Court arguments by March 22.
The accord means the Supreme Court may consider the case at least three months earlier than it normally would, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Thursday.
The justices will decide later when they will review the case. Jannelle Combs, the Supreme Court's chief deputy clerk, said the court had not yet received the agreement Thursday, which was dated earlier this week.
A group of eight Spirit Lake Sioux tribal members who want UND to keep the nickname are suing the state Board of Higher Education in an attempt to delay any board decision on whether it should be dropped.
A district judge threw out the lawsuit Dec. 18. The Spirit Lake tribal members are appealing, and the Board of Higher Education has decided to forgo any action until the court case is resolved.
In a stipulation prepared for the Supreme Court, the board's attorney, Douglas Bahr, an assistant attorney general, and Patrick Morley, a Grand Forks attorney for the tribal members, said they would finish their written appeal arguments by the end of February.
``The parties request and stipulate to oral argument on or after March 22, 2010, if the court is able to accommodate this request,' the agreement says.
In an earlier lawsuit settlement with the NCAA, the board and the University of North Dakota agreed to begin retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname on Nov. 30 if they could not obtain permission from the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes to continue using it.
Spirit Lake tribal members endorsed the name in a reservation referendum, but the Standing Rock Sioux's tribal chairman has said the nickname's fate is not a high-priority issue. The Spirit Lake Sioux tribal members argue the Standing Rock tribe should have until Nov. 30 to indicate support for the nickname.
Stenehjem said the dispute was largely a legal argument about the Board of Higher Education's authority.
``The arguments that were given to the trial court are basically the same arguments that are going to be given to the Supreme Court,' the attorney general said.