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Providing outstanding service, safety and justice to Cayuga Nation citizens

Cayuga Nation Tribal Court

The Cayuga Nation possesses sovereign authority to establish and operate its own justice system, including a court system. As with other tribal courts across the United States, the Cayuga Nation Court is a court of general jurisdiction. The Nation Court is empowered to resolve conflicts and disputes arising within the Nation’s jurisdiction, and to enforce the Nation Penal law. The Nation Court hears civil and criminal cases under the direction of an experienced and independent judge. Criminal cases may be adjudicated by either bench or jury trial. A separate judge of equal stature and impartiality is assigned to preside over appellate proceedings as required.

Tribal Court Staff

Honorable Joseph E. Fahey, Tribal Court Judge
Joseph Fahey has served as a tribal court judge for the Cayuga Nation Tribal Court since 2018. He has more than 35 years of experience serving in various legal positions, including Senior Staff Attorney for Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society, Adjunct Professor of Law – Trial Practice at Syracuse University College of Law, Partner at Wiles & Fahey, Acting Supreme Court for the New York State Supreme Court, Onondaga County Court Judge, and Corporation Counsel for the City of Syracuse, NY. Joseph Fahey received his Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University and an L.L.M in Criminal Law at the University of Buffalo.

Honorable Edward D. Carni, Tribal Court Judge 
Edward Carni has more than 25 years of legal experience. Judge Carni served as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department since 2009. He previously served on the Appellate Division, Second Department and at the trial level as a Supreme Court Justice and a Syracuse City Court Judge. As a judge, he presided over many complex cases including commercial, construction, insurance, municipal, products liability, professional liability and serious personal injury matters. Judge Carni also served as Chairman of the Judicial Hearing Officer Selection Advisory Committee – Fourth Department and liaison for the Fifth Judicial District Article 81 Committee.

Dennis Kehoe, Tribal Appellate Court Judge

Melissa K. Swartz, Criminal Defense Attorney 
Melissa Swartz is a criminal defense attorney in Syracuse, New York, who focuses her practice on criminal law including appeals, post-conviction motions, and trials in both New York State and Federal courts. She worked as an intern with the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office in Syracuse, New York during her first law school summer, then as an extern, earning course credit, during the academic year. She also interned with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York and volunteered 40-hours a week at the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, where she eventually earned a full-time paid position after graduating in 2014. As the Legal Research Coordinator for the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, Melissa responded to appellate briefs submitted to County Court, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, and the Court of Appeals. During her time at the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, Melissa was able to focus on complex legal issues and highly contested criminal cases, specifically homicide cases and cold case files. In June 2018, Melissa joined Green & Brenneck and has brought her vast experience and focused knowledge to the defense of those in need of her services.