Welcome to the Tribal Court Clearinghouse
The Tribal Court Clearinghouse is a comprehensive website established in June 1997 to serve as a resource for American Indian and Alaska Native Nations, American Indian and Alaska Native people, tribal justice systems, victims services providers, tribal service providers, and others involved in the improvement of justice in Indian country.
The Tribal Court Clearinghouse is developed and maintained by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, an Indian owned and operated non-profit corporation organized to design and develop education, research, training, and technical assistance programs which promote the enhancement of justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples.
We are pleased to announce our most recent publications:
New on the Tribal Court Clearinghouse
Tribal Legal Code Resource: Crimes Against Children (or Microsoft Word 2007 Format) has been developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute under a Children's Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities training and technical assistance grant. Specifically it has been developed to provide assistance to tribes and tribal organizations that have also received Children’s Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities grants. Tribes frequently request assistance in developing and/or updating their laws to address victimization of tribal children. The Institute developed this Resource Guide and Workbook to meet the identified need. This project was conceived in 2001 under the guidance of an Advisory Committee of experts in the tribal justice field, those working with Native child abuse and child victimization issues, and with tribal child and family services providers. The Crimes Against American Indian/Alaska Native Children Resource Guide provides illustrative examples, narrative, and discussion questions. The discussion questions direct users through a tailoring process that will assure that the resulting draft statutory provisions reflect the needs and values of the tribal community that the targeted law serves.
Tribal Legal Code Resource: Domestic Violence Laws was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in cooperation with the Office on Violence Against Women and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. This Victim-Centered Approach to Domestic Violence Against Native Women resource guide includes exercises, examples, and discussion questions to help you customize your laws to meet the needs of your community. This resource was revised and updated January 2012, including changes addressing issues concerning the 2010 enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act.
Tribal Legal Code Resource: Tribal Judge’s Sexual Assault Bench Book and Bench Card was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in cooperation with the Office on Violence Against Women as a resource for tribal judges who hear sexual assault cases in tribal courts. It provides background information on important sexual assault and tribal jurisdictional issues, as well as providing guidance in handling key issues at various stages of a sexual assault criminal trial.
Tribal Domestic Violence Case Law: Annotations for Selected Cases was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in cooperation with the Office on Violence Against Women as a resource for tribal judicial officers in understanding how some tribal governments have handled certain legal issues within the context of domestic violence cases. While a great deal of research has been done on case law in the state systems, little to no analysis has been done on the tribal judicial approach to domestic violence. This compendium, developed as part of an overall code-writing workshop curriculum for tribal governments, will assist tribal legislators as well. Understanding how laws are interpreted by the court systems may impact the development of laws that provide safety to tribal citizens.
Tribal Legal Code Resource: Sexual Violence and Stalking Laws was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in conjunction with the Southwest Center for Law and Policy to be a guide for drafting or revising victim-centered tribal criminal laws on sexual assault and stalking. It is written with a philosophy that tribal laws should reflect tribal values. In addition, writing a tribal law usually requires careful consideration of how state and/or federal laws might apply in the community. This resource guide includes sample language and discussion questions which are designed to help tribal community members decide on the best laws for their community. This resource was revised and updated May 2012, including changes addressing the 2010 enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act.
Law Enforcement Protocol Guide: Sexual Assault (Including a Model Sexual Assault Protocol) was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in conjunction with Southwest Center for Law and Policy as a tool for improving the investigation of sexual assault crimes. Effective investigations increase the likelihood of victim participation and increase the probability of convictions in tribal, state, and/or federal courts. This guide focuses on the development of an internal protocol for law enforcement. A law enforcement protocol can enhance the efforts of all community agencies in addressing sexual violence. Once your tribal government has strong laws in place, this publication will help you create policies and protocols for your law enforcement agency to enforce your laws.
Prosecutor Protocol Guide: Sexual Assault (Including a Model Sexual Assault Protocol) was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in conjunction with Southwest Center for Law and Policy as a tool for improving the prosecution of sexual assault crimes. Holding offenders accountable for their actions is a key part of making your community safe. This publication is designed to help your prosecutor’s office ensure consistency and compassion for all survivors. This guide focuses on the development of an internal protocol for tribal prosecution. A prosecutor protocol can enhance the efforts of all community agencies in addressing sexual violence.
Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Resource was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in conjunction with Southwest Center for Law and Policy as a guide to creating cohesive policies between tribal agencies. Victims of sexual assault deserve a coordinated, comprehensive response from a variety of community agencies. This SART resource provides a starting point for developing victim-centered SART teams in your community.
Listen to the Grandmothers Video Discussion Guidebook(Note: this PDF is one megabyte) was developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in order to assist tribal programs with incorporating cultural traditions into contemporary responses to violence against Native women. The "Listen to the Grandmothers” video features Native elders speaking to the problem of violence against Native women. The video provides a historical overview of violence against Native women, traditional responses to such violence and an analysis on incorporating cultural traditions into contemporary responses to violence against Native women. For information concerning the video and accompanying guidebook, please contact the Minnesota office of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. Due to the sensitive nature of this video, we welcome the opportunity to provide onsite training and technical assistance on the use of these products.
U.S. Supreme Court to hear ICWA Case - The United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) adoption case involving a South Carolina couple who were ordered to turn over a 27-month-old girl to her biological father, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The South Carolina Supreme Court decision which ruled for the father was appealed by the South Carolina couple who said the law did not apply because Veronica’s biological father had relinquished his parental rights in a text message. Lawyers for the father and his tribe said that “extraordinary defects in the adoption process,” including efforts to conceal Veronica’s Indian heritage, were to blame for a case that had been “painful and personally difficult for all of the parties.” The main question the justices have been asked to decide in the case, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, No. 12-399, is whether the law applies when an unmarried mother who is not an Indian gives up her child for adoption. The only previous ICWA case heard by the Supreme Court since ICWA was enacted in 1978 was Mississippi Choctaw v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30 (1989).
Oral arguments for this ICWA case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl will be held on Tuesday April 16, 2013. The Supreme Court has allocated the time for oral argument to be divided as follows: 20 minutes for petitioners, 10 minutes for respondent Guardian ad Litem, 20 minutes for respondent Birth Father, and 10 minutes for the Solicitor General. The Supreme Court decision in this case is expected by the end of June 2013. More Information >>>
Webinar: Implementation of the Expanded Jurisdiction Provisions of the Recently Reauthorized Violence Against Women Act - NCAI and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute to Host a Webinar on Implementation of the Expanded Jurisdiction Provisions of the Recently Reauthorized Violence Against Women Act On April 5, 2013, from 1:30-3:30 pm (EST), NCAI, in partnership with the Tribal Law and Order Institute, will host a webinar on implementation of the Violence Against Women Act's expanded tribal jurisdiction provision, and what issues it presents for Indian tribal governments. In preparation for this webinar, and the overall implementation of the expanded jurisdiction provisions, NCAI prepared this Draft Amended Version of the Indian Civil Rights Act (download), as it will be codified after Yesterday's historic signing of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. Please review and we look forward to you joining us for this important webinar.
New Federal Policy Calls for Collaboration to Improve Public Safety - The Department of Justice Policy calls for all U.S. Attorneys in districts containing Indian Country to establish tribal liaisons who, in consultation with tribes, would develop an operational plan to address elements such as communications, investigations, victim advocacy, and accountability and provide a blueprint for collaboration.
TribalProtectionOrder.org Launched - Under a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women, the Tribal Law and Policy Institute has launched a new website, TribalProtectionOrder.org, which is designed to provide both tribal and non-tribal entities with a clearinghouse of information and resources pertaining to the issuance and enforcement of protection orders.
Perceptions of Methamphetamine use in three Western Tribal Communities: Implications for Child Abuse in Indian Country - Indian country lacks both a macro and micro study of child abuse and methamphetamines. Because so little is documented routinely by either law enforcement, social services or medical professionals in assessing risks and dangers to children from environments where meth is found, data is difficult to find. However, in an attempt to explore the increasing concerns raised by the emerging methamphetamine epidemic in Indian country, professionals from three Western Tribal communities were asked to complete a survey about their perceptions of meth us and implications for child abuse in the communities in which they worked. This study was funded through the Training and Technical Assistance grant that the Tribal Law and Policy Institute receives for Children’s Justice Act Partnerships in Indian Communities to assist tribes in addressing serious child abuse. The tribes and individuals that participated in the study were guaranteed anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the questions being asked. However, each Tribal Council provided permission for the surveys to be conducted within their service areas.
A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act is intended to answer questions about the ICWA by people of all levels of familiarity with this important law, and to provide a comprehensive resource of information on the ICWA. The Guide, by the Native American Rights Fund, provides an introduction to the ICWA, answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and an appendix of resources -- primary research documents (federal and state laws, regulations, court cases, legislative materials) and secondary research documents (reports, guides, links, bibliographies, forms, and contact information).
We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who participated and assisted in the the 11th National Indian Nations Conference. Workshop PowerPoint's and Handouts' are now posted on the Conference Web Site.