Meskwaki Nation Tribal Court

307 Meskwaki Road Tama, IA 52339 • (641)484-9300 • fax (641) 484-2221

Associate Judge

hon Judge johnson

Judge Johnson was appointed as an Associate Judge of the Meskwaki Tribal Court in March, 2018.  Judge Johnson is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Hawkins (DD873) and the USS Eisenhower (CVN69). He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1987 and his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from the Creighton University of Law in 1990.

Judge Johnson began his legal career as a Public Defender, practicing in Juvenile Court, before commencing a practice focusing on federal Indian/Tribal law with a nationally recognized law firm and working with tribes in the Midwest and West Coast. Later, he formed his own firm and subsequently served as Attorney General to the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation).

 During his time with the Omaha Tribe, Judge Johnson worked with the Native American Rights Fund’s Tribal Supreme Court Project to represent the Tribe on the briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court in Nebraska v. Parker, 136 S. Ct. 1072 (2016) in which the Court held, by an 8-0 decision, that an 1882 Act of Congress did not diminish the Omaha Reservation.  As Attorney General for the Meskwaki Nation, Judge Johnson concentrated on strengthening and diversifying the Tribe’s economic development, resulting in the enactment of a tribal business/corporate code and the establishment of the Tribe’s economic development corporation, Meskwaki. Inc.

Judge Johnson has over 29 years of legal experience in business, real estate, gaming, employment, regulatory, municipal, telecom, mediations, tribal, state and federal civil courts. He continues to serve as Of-Counsel to Goosmann Law Firm. Judge Johnson is licensed to practice in the States of Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska; the Omaha, Ponca and Meskwaki Tribal Courts; and, was previously admitted to federal practice in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Western District of Texas. 

Hon Judge Plumer

Chief Judge

Jessica R. Bear, an enrolled member of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation), was appointed as the Chief Trial Judge of the Meskwaki Tribal Court on June 06, 2013.  Prior to being appointed the Chief Judge, Judge Bear served approximately five years as an Associate Judge and one year as a Magistrate Judge.  She has also served as needed as a pro tem Judge for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and as an Appellate Justice for the Round Valley Indian Tribes Court of Appeals in California.

Before entering the judiciary, Judge Bear served as one of three Gaming Commissioners for the Sac and Fox Gaming Commission in Tama, Iowa.  She also worked for four years as a Staff Attorney for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, in Arizona, where she primarily focused on economic development and community development.

Judge Bear graduated from the University of Iowa with an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies and a Certificate in American Indian/Native Studies.  She obtained her juris doctorate (J.D.) from the University of Iowa College of Law in May of 2000.  She is licensed to practice law in the State of Iowa, State of New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation, and previously admitted to federal practice in the U.S. District Court District of New Mexico.  She served two terms on the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa.  She was recently selected to serve a Fourth term as a Region 5 Director for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) representing the regions of Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and is an At-Large Member for the NAICJA Executive Committee. Chief Judge Bear serves on the Iowa Children’s Justice Advisory Committee for the Iowa Supreme Court.


Associate Judge

The primary function of Meskwaki Nation judges is to resolve matters brought before the tribal court. The Meskwaki Nation Tribal court is a court of general jurisdiction, meaning that they hear both civil and criminal cases falling within their jurisdiction. Trial Tribal Court judges are recognized as having such authority as is needed to dispose of matters brought before them, ranging from setting the dates for trials and hearings, dispute resolutions, and holding parties in contempt or otherwise sanctioning them for improper behavior.

Trial Court-Judges

Hon judge bear ​

Judge Plumer, an enrolled member of the Leech Lake (White Oak Point/Mississippi) Band of Chippewa Indians, currently serves as an Associate Judge of the Meskwaki Tribal Court (Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa).  He has served on the Meskwaki Judiciary since August 31, 2005, and has served in different capacities as Chief Judge and Associate Judge.  Judge Plumer received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio in 1980. He graduated from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1983. Judge Plumer began his legal career as a staff attorney for the Anishinaabe Legal Services in Cass Lake, Minnesota. He has been in–house counsel for various tribes in Minnesota and is presently general counsel for Red Lake Band of Chippewa and White Earth Band of Chippewa.  Joe formerly served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota. Joe is particularly proud of the good work at Regional Native Public Defense Corporation provides to Tribal members in northern Minnesota, and he is a founding board member of the organization.

Since November 1, 2002, Judge Plumer has been engaged in the practice of law in the Plumer Law Office, based in Minnesota, Judge Plumer is licensed to practice law in all state and federal courts in Minnesota, as well as the Tribal courts of Prairie Island, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, Upper Sioux, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, White Earth, and Bois Forte tribes. In addition to serving as Associate Judge for the Meskwaki Tribal Court, he serves as Chief Judge for the Pechanga Tribe in California, Special Magistrate for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s Tribal Court; Appellate Judge for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s Court of Appeals; and Administrative Law Judge for the Gaming Division of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.  Judge Plumer also previously served a four-year term as the Chief Judge of Meskwaki Tribal Court.