Lay advocates in tribal court do not trigger Sixth amendment rights, since they are not a “licensed professional attorney[s]”:
Thus, the issue before the court is whether a tribal public defender, who is not a licensed professional attorney but who appears in tribal court, is “counsel” within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment.
The court found that s/he was not.
The District Court for the District of South Dakota recently declined to suppress evidence obtained in a criminal investigation at the Rosebud. This case has the potential to go to the Supreme Court (a circuit split already exists and another could arise) and could be a significant problem for tribal criminal law enforcement.
The defendant allegedly committed a crime on tribal lands, initially investigated by the tribal police and prosecuted in tribal court. The defendant made statements to police while being represented by a tribal public defender, who was not a lawyer or a law school graduate (however, the director of the tribal public defender office is a lawyer). The US would like to use those statements in the federal prosecution of the same offense. The question is when the defendant’s Miranda and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches. If the CA8 reverses this decision and holds that they attach at the tribal court level, then there will be two circuit splits.