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Forum to cover Penobscot National Tribal Wellness Court

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AUGUSTA — The University of Maine at Augusta’s Maine State Forum Series is scheduled to host Chief Judge Eric Mehnert and Rhonda Decontie, clerk of the court of the Penobscot Nation Tribal Court, to discuss how the Healing to Wellness Court employs restorative justice principles to address social problems within the community.

This free webinar is set to begin at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8.

Registration is required at forms.gle/LQjupcBN5u7cya98A. Once registered, an email with the Zoom link to participate in this event will be provided.

The Penobscot Nation Tribal Court “combines judicial oversight and powers of the Tribal Court with local healing and wellness services to better address any and all underlying or co-occurring substance or mental health issues of the court-involved individuals,” according to a news release from UMA.

“We are very pleased to announce that Judge Mehnert will teach a new course on Tribal Law at UMA in the spring semester of 2022, and this presentation will provide a preview of the concepts that will be part of the new course offering,” stated Sharon McMahon Sawyer, associate professor and program coordinator of justice studies. “At present, this is the only tribal law course offered in the eastern United States.”

About the speakers:

Clerk of the Court Rhonda Decontie Contributed photo

Decontie has served on the Penobscot Nation’s Judicial System since 2011 and became clerk of the court in 2014. Under her leadership, the Tribal Court has been nationally recognized as a leader in handling child protective proceedings and for its culturally-aligned Healing to Wellness Court.

She is a graduate of the University of Maine at Augusta and is a member of the Bangor Campus Advisory Council.

Chief Judge Eric M. Mehnert Photo courtesy of Penobscot Nation Tribal Court

Mehnert has served as chief judge of the Penobscot Nation Tribal Court since 2008. He presides over the Nation’s Criminal and Civil courts as well as the Nation’s Healing to Wellness Court. He served as chief of Enforcement of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination, overseeing a staff of 15 attorneys and 45 investigators prosecuting discrimination cases in Massachusetts.

Sawyer will serve as moderator of the Maine State Forum.

The Maine State Forum, funded by a UMA research and innovation grant, invites prominent Maine policymakers to speak at the University of Maine at Augusta on topics of interest to Mainers. The forum brings speakers, the university community, and the public together to meet and discuss topics in the news that affect the lives of Maine residents.

For more information, email Sawyer at [email protected].



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