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March 07, 2018 RAPID RESPONSE

Five Years Later: An Update on VAWA 2013 Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (over Non-Indians)

The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) affirmed tribes’ “inherent power” to exercise criminal jurisdiction over all persons, including non-Indians, who commit domestic violence, dating violence, or who violate protection orders in Indian Country. VAWA 2013 creates a framework for interested tribes to voluntarily opt-in and exercise criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit these selected crimes. By exercising special jurisdiction, many communities have increased safety and justice for victims who had previously seen little of either. The National Congress of American Indians have drafted the “Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Five Year Report,” which will be discussed on the webinar. The panel of presenters will discuss the need for special jurisdiction; an overview of the process; the findings of implementing special jurisdiction; and profiles of the 18 tribes who have implemented special jurisdiction.


  • Jennifer Bergman, Prosecutor, Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas
  • Judge Jocelyn Fabry, Judge, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
  • Oscar J. Flores, Chief Prosecutor, Pascua Yaqui Tribe
  • Elizabeth Reese, Project Attorney, Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction, National Congress of American Indians 
  • Judge Stacie Smith, Chief Judge, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes

Co-Sponsor: ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Native American Concerns Committee

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