No judge, so Makah postpone pretrial hearing for five who killed whale

NEAH BAY — The Makah Tribal Court has postponed a pretrial conference for five whale hunters because there is no judge to conduct it.

No new day has been set for the hearing that was to take place Tuesday.

The defendants also face trial in federal court in March.

One purpose of the session scheduled Tuesday was to set a trial date in the Makah court.

Jean Vitalis, former Makah chief judge, originally was expected to hear the case — but left the bench after her contract was not renewed.

The new top jurist, former Associate Judge Emma Doulik, has recused herself, citing “strong emotions” about issues stemming from the Sept. 8 killing of a gray whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The tribe then asked Quinault Chief Judge Edythe Chenois to hear the case, but she begged off on Thursday, citing health reasons.

The Makah next hoped to bring in Tulalip Associate Judge Theresa Pouley, but, as of Friday afternoon, Pouley said she had not received a request to do so.

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