Portia Kay^nthos Skenadore-Wheelock has published “Introduction of VAWA Reauthorization Bill is a Major Step Forward For Tribal Communities.”
But our review involves no probing of the facts, just a pure question of law: Does a tribal court have jurisdiction under federal law to issue a civil personal protection order against a non-Indian and non-tribal member in matters arising in the Indian country of the Indian tribe? Because 18 U.S.C. § 2265(e) unambiguously grants tribal courts that power, and because tribal sovereign immunity requires us to dismiss this suit against two of the named defendants, we AFFIRM the district court’s dismissal of Spurr’s complaint.
Lower court materials here.
Tribal supreme court decision here.
Dear Justices Owens and Madsen:
By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested our opinion on two questions that I paraphrase as follows:
1. Does Washington have an obligation to enforce protection orders issued by the courts of other states or by Indian tribal courts?
2. If Washington has such an obligation, is registration of a protection order in a Washington state court a prerequisite to enforcement?
1. Yes. Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 2265, requires that any protection order issued by the court of a state or Indian tribe be accorded full faith and credit and enforced by the court of another state or Indian tribe, if the protection order is consistent with 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b). The Washington Foreign Protection Order Full Faith and Credit Act, RCW 26.52, implements this requirement in Washington.
2. No. Under 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2), a protection order issued by a state or Indian tribe must be accorded full faith and credit regardless of whether it is registered or filed in the court of the enforcing state or Indian tribe. Washington law permits protection orders to be filed without cost, but filing is not a prerequisite to enforcement. RCW 26.52.030.