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Through a federal suit in 2007, Hobbs Straus attorneys obtained protection of tribal court authority over child custody proceedings.

In The News

2016-08-29

Passing of M. Frances Ayer, Esq.

With heavy hearts we announce the death of our partner and friend, M. Frances Ayer. Fran had a long, successful career in the field of American Indian law, and had the respect of all who worked with her.

Fran devoted her legal career to asserting the rights of Indian tribes and worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for Native American people. Prior to joining Hobbs Straus as a partner in 2002, she was a partner at Morisset, Schlosser, Ayer & Jozwiak. Fran was a zealous advocate for her clients and a force to contend with on legal arguments. She relished complex legal matters and gave credit for her philosophical rearing to Mescalero Chairman Wendell Chino and Red Lake Chairman Roger Jordain with whom she worked closely when serving as Counsel to the National Tribal Chairman’s Association. Fran served as lead counsel for the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Mni Wiconi Project after its authorization, a massive drinking water project for the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Lower Brule Reservations and neighboring non-Indian communities. Fran represented the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians to obtain legislation reaffirming its federal recognition. She was also lead attorney in the legislative establishment of the Self-Governance Demonstration Project, representing five of the ten original pilot project tribes. Fran wrote papers and taught seminars on tribal sovereignty, tribal government infrastructure, taxation and commercial dealings with tribes.

Fran began her practice in Indian law in the Department of the Interior’s Solicitor’s Office where she worked throughout most of the 1970s. While there, she prepared for publication volumes VI and VII of Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, the Opinions of the Solicitor on Indians and the Model Code for Use in Courts of Indian Offences. She served as Assistant Solicitor for Jurisdiction, Taxation, Fishing and Civil Rights. She later was Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs where she worked with Northwest tribes to protect their treaty fishing rights and represented the Department in sockeye salmon treaty negotiations between the United States and Canada. She also facilitated conflict resolution between tribal and sports/ocean fisheries along the Klamath and Trinity Rivers and helped draft President Reagan’s Indian Policy Statement, the first since that of President Nixon in 1970.

"Fran was an extraordinary attorney who accomplished great things for her clients," said Jerry Straus, one of the founding partners of the Firm who knew Fran throughout her career. "We will miss Fran, and we extend our deepest sympathies to Fran’s family and loved ones."

Fran’s funeral will be held on Friday, September 2nd at 12pm at Rockville Cemetery located at 1350 Baltimore Road, Rockville, Maryland 20851. Calling hours are on Thursday, September 1st from 6pm-8pm at Joseph Gawler’s Sons, Inc. Funeral Home located at 5130 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016. A separate memorial service may be held at a later date.

Available Documents for Download
M Frances Ayer.82916.pdf


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