New Scholarship Defending Non-Lawyer Judges and Advocates in Tribal Justice Systems

Judith M. Stinson, Tara Mospan, and Marnie Hodahkwen have posted “Trusting Tribal Courts: More Lawyers is Not Always the Answer” on SSRN. The paper is forthcoming in the Law Journal for Social Justice at ASU.

The abstract:

Many outsiders distrust tribal courts because they assume they will be treated unfairly. This distrust creates a number of problems, including decreasing the effectiveness of tribal judicial systems, inhibiting tribal economic development, and ultimately undermining tribal sovereignty. Critics of tribal courts assert three main justifications for their structural skepticism: first, that tribal courts are “different” from other court systems in the United States; second, that tribal laws and traditions seem foreign and may be difficult to access; and third, that because the qualifications for judges and practitioners in tribal courts sometimes differ from those in other courts, tribal judges and advocates are inferior. Drawing on other scholarship, this article briefly responds to the first two criticisms. This paper then argues that non-lawyer judges and lay advocates can be as effective as law-trained judges and advocates in other court systems. Although it is impossible to eliminate all outsider bias, refuting the claimed justifications should demonstrate that tribal courts are as fair and as competent as non-tribal courts. Therefore, greater confidence in tribal courts is warranted.

Ute Tribe Sanctioned for Abuse of Judicial Process/Acting in Bad Faith

Here are the new materials in the long-running Becker v. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation (D. Utah):

205 Becker Notice of Intent to Subpoena

206 Tribe Motion to Quash

210 Opposition

211 Reply

221 DCT Order to Show Cause

228 Response to Order to Show Cause

234 Becker Memorandum re Tribe’s Documents

235 Becker Response to Order re Sanctions against Tribe

238 Jurrius Reply

243 Tribe Reply

244-1 Becker Surreply

260 DCt Order

261 DCT Order re Unsealing

261-1 Arbitration Statement of Claims

261-2 Jurrius Counterclaims

261-3 Tribe’s Response

261-4 Settlement Agreement

Prior post here.

Cherokee Nation Reservation Boundaries Case out of the Oklahoma Court of Last Resort

We also find this District Court appropriately applied McGirt to determine that Congress did establish a Cherokee Reservation and no evidence was presented showing that Congress explicitly erased or disestablished the boundaries of the Cherokee Reservation or that the State of Oklahoma had jurisdiction in this matter.

Hogner v. State of Oklahoma


Hogner Brief

State Brief

Hogner Supplemental Brief

State Supplemental Brief

Cherokee Nation Amicus Brief

Chickasaw Nation Reservation Boundaries Case out of the Oklahoma Court of Last Resort

Based on the evidence, the District Court concluded that Congress never erased the boundaries and disestablished the Chickasaw Nation Reservation. The Court further concluded that the crimes at issue occurred in Indian Country. We adopt these conclusions.

Bosse v. State of Oklahoma


Chicaksaw Nation Amicus Brief

Petitioner Supplemental Brief

State Supplemental Brief

Lower court materials here.

Materials in Seminole Tribe Contract Breach suit against Energy Company

Here are the materials so far in Evans Energy Partners LLC v. Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. (M.D. Fla.):

1 Complaint

1-2 Tribal Court Complaint

1-3 Tribal Court Final Judgment

1-5 AAA Opinion and Order

12 Motion to Dismiss

Federal Court Dismisses ICRA Habeas Petition Challenging Enhanced Sentence under TLOA

Here are the materials in Picard v. Colville Tribal Correction Facility (E.D. Wash.):

1 Habeas Petition

15 Answer

15-5 Colville Appellate Court Opinion

21 DCT Order

Montana Federal District Court Holds Crow Tribe Has Jurisdiction Over Electric Co-op

Previous post on this litigation here.

Cherokee Nation SCT Strikes “By Blood” from Cherokee Constitution

Here is the order in In Re: Effect of Cherokee Nation v. Nash and Vann v. Zinke:

SC-17-07 37-Final Order 2-22-21

Selected Briefs:

2-8-21 Motion for Final Disposition

2-18-21 Tribe Brief

2-18-21 Councilors Brief

Hon. Steve Hager Passes

Because honestly it was just too much to post about both Judge White and Judge Hager on the same day.

He always wanted to stop and talk about ICWA with me, and I was lucky for that.


NAICJA’s Statement:

The National American Indian Court Judges Association is heartbroken to announce the death of Judge C. Steven Hager, Board of Directors Region 1. Judge Hager served as an elected board member since 2017. Judge Hager was the Chief Judge for the Kickapoo Nation in Kansas and served on the Supreme Court for the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma. During his tenure on the Board of Directors, Judge Hager was an invaluable resource to our Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance Project and thoughtful jurist who helped shape NAICJA’s goals and visions.Judge Hager was a Senior Attorney at Oklahoma Indian Legal Services for over 30 years. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law, teaching in the Masters of Law and L.L.M. programs. Judge Hager was also on the board of the Kansas Tribal-State Judicial Committee.

“Steve was a dedicated judge and member of our community who we will miss dearly,” stated President Richard Blake. His good friend and long-time colleague, Judge Greg Bigler, recalled, “Steve Hager was a great friend, and he was a pleasure to watch in court. We never knew if he would be at tribal court with some interns from OILS, or on his own. He was generous with his time and great legal knowledge to those in training. In court, I always knew when he stood up and started to take off his glasses that he was about to make a well taken point. It was usually about the law or concern over his juvenile clients, but it could also be a dry humorous comment about the current state of affairs we all suffered. He will be missed by the courts he practiced in, because he was a unique and talented friend. We could use more judges and lawyers with his dedication, caring, and spirit that could brighten any room. Steve would also want everyone to know that he always wanted to be a lumberjack.”NAICJA sends condolences to his wife, son, family and the communities where he served and practiced.