Colette is a tenured professor at the William Mitchell College of Law, where she is Co-Director of the Indian Law Program, and teaches Federal Indian Law, an Indian Law Clinic, Natural Resources Law and Property Law. She maintains an active pro bono practice in federal Indian law and wildlife law, and consults with the firm on its cases. Colette often testifies before Congressional committees concerning Indian law issues, and presents at symposia and legal-education seminars around the country.
Colette has substantial experience practicing criminal law in tribal courts. Over the past two years, she has developed and operated a public defender clinic that served the Bois Forte Band (Minnesota) and Menominee Indian Tribe (Wisconsin). As part of this clinic, she supervised law students who provided representation in more than 400 criminal cases involving a wide range of subject matters, ranging from disorderly conduct and operating while intoxicated, to aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon and drug trafficking. In Menominee Tribal Court, the clinic secured more than 80 dismissals, three victories in the Menominee Supreme Court, and several acquittals in jury trials. Importantly, the clinic maintained its representation of defendants through the probation/review stage of proceedings, which resulted in significantly higher rates of compliance and lower recidivism.
Before entering academia, Colette worked at Faegre & Benson (now Faegre Baker Daniels) and Jacobson, Buffalo, Magnuson, Anderson & Hogen. Her practice centered on the representation of Indian tribes and environmental organizations.
Colette’s Experience includes:
- Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Tribe et al. v. Wisconsin (7th Cir. 2014). Providing pro bono representation, including completion of five-day trial as lead attorney to certain Wisconsin tribes seeking relief from 1991 judgment preventing them from hunting white-tailed deer at night due to purported safety concerns.
- Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (U.S. 2013). Drafted pro bono amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of all Wisconsin Indian tribes, which supported the position of the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee birth father seeking to maintain custody of his daughter pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act.
- Summit Lake Paiute Tribe v. FERC (9th Cir. 2010-2012) and Summit Lake Paiute Tribe v. BLM (D.C. Cir. 2010-2012). Provided pro bono representation as lead attorney in cases challenging the federal government’s authorization of an interstate natural gas pipeline that would destroy sacred sites, burial grounds, greater sage grouse habitat, and traditional plants and medicines in the Tribe’s aboriginal territory. Obtained partial re-route of pipeline to avoid core areas of sacred site.
- Saginaw Chippewa Tribe v. Michigan (E.D. Mich. 2007-2010). Represented tribe in litigation against the State of Michigan, and obtained successful settlement acknowledging that the Isabella Indian Reservation was established through treaties with the United States in 1855 and 1864, and continues to exist.
- Carcieri v. Kempthorne (U.S. 2008). Drafted pro bono amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of law professors who specialize in Federal Indian Law, which supported affirming the United States’ decision to take land into trust for the Narragansett Indian Tribe pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Amicus brief was cited by Justice Breyer in his concurring opinion.
- Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness et al. v. Bosworth, 2004 WL 2066848 (D. Minn. 2004), aff’d in part, 437 F.3d 815 (8th Cir. 2006). Provided successful pro bono representation to environmental organizations as lead attorney in case overturning the Forest Service’s decision to increase motorized use in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
- Miodowski v. Miodowski, 2006 WL 3454797 (D. Neb. 2006). Successfully represented the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska as lead attorney in litigation challenging the tribe’s jurisdiction to issue a divorce decree and make custody determinations where one parent was non-Indian.
- Pourier v. South Dakota Dep’t of Revenue, 658 N.W.2d 395 (S.D. 2003), rev’d in part, 674 N.W.2d 314 (S.D. 2004). Successfully represented tribal member gas station owner challenging South Dakota’s ability to tax gasoline sales to Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
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- B.M., Ithaca College, magna cum laude, 1998
- J.D., University of Michigan Law School, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, 2001
- Supreme Court of the United States
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
- U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska
- U.S. District Court for the District of Wisconsin
- “Tribal Consultation in the 21st Century” (co-authored by Colette Routel and Jeffrey Holth). 46 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 417 (2013).
- “Tribal Guardianships” (co-authored by Colette Routel and Sarah Deer). Forthcoming in Comparative Perspectives on Adult Guardianship. Carolina Academic Press, December 2013.
- “Murder or Heroism? Minnesota Bounties on Dakota Men Following the U.S.-Dakota War.” Forthcoming in William Mitchell Law Review, 2014.
- “Recent Developments in Indian Land Law: The U.S. Supreme Court’s Decisions in Carcieri v. Salazar and Patchak v. Salazar.” Forthcoming in Native Land Law: General Principles of Law Relating to Native Lands and Natural Resources (West, 2nd edition), 2014.
Selected Congressional Testimony, Presentations, and Professional Honors:
- Rising Star, Minnesota Super Lawyers Magazine (2005-2006, 2008- 2009, 2011-2013).
- Presenter, Law Seminar’s International’s Tribal Rights, Sovereignty and Economic Development in the Midwest, U.S. Supreme Court and lower court decisions affecting Tribal economic issues (2013).
- Organizer & Presenter, Minnesota American Indian Bar Association’s 2013 Indian Law Conference, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota State and Federal Court Case Update (2013).
- Presenter, Lincoln and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Lincoln Group of D.C. and the United States Capitol Historical Society, aired on CSPAN (2012).
- Organizer, Presenter & Speaker, William Mitchell College of Law, 3rd Annual Indian Law Conference, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862: a 150-year anniversary (2012).
- Provided oral and written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Patchak v. Salazar (2012).
- Organizer & Presenter, Minnesota American Indian Bar Association’s 2012 Indian Law Conference, Prairie Island Indian Community, Eighth Circuit Indian Law Case Update (2012).
- Provided oral and written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar (2011).
- Presenter, Stanford University Law School, “Shaking the Foundation” Conference, Casino Justice: Impacts of Tribal Gaming on Tribal Communities (2011).
- Presenter, Federal District Court & Magistrate Judge Conference, Duluth, A Discussion of Some Current Issues in Indian Country that May Come Before the Minnesota Federal District Courts (2011).
- Presenter, University of Michigan Law School, Modern Problems at the Intersection of Federal Indian Law and Environmental Law (2011).
- Presenter, University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, New Court, New Rules? Evolution of Indian Law in the Supreme Court (2011).
- Presenter, University of Utah Law School, Tribal Wildlife Management (2011).
- Provided oral and written testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar (2009).
- Interviewed on CSPAN (Washington Journal), February 28, 2008, discussion of the Exxon v. Baker Supreme Court oral arguments.