Tribal Courts Council
Enhancing the Fairness and Function of
Native American Tribal Courts
The Tribal Courts Council is a free-standing committee of the Judicial Division. It was formed to respond to the need for educating and advising ABA members and the general public about issues affecting Indian Country and the far-reaching but little-known effect of those issues on all areas of the legal profession. The Tribal Courts Council was also created as a means of advancing the ABA goal of promoting diversity in the legal profession. Finally, the Tribal Courts Council was formed in response to the potential for a large membership base of diverse peoples involved in tribal justice, many programmatic opportunities, the desire among tribes for affiliation with the ABA and the Judicial Division, and interest in tribal issues on the part of other members of ABA entities.
The Tribal Courts Council is dedicated to engaging in programs and projects that enhance the effectiveness of those who appear, work, and practice before and within tribal courts and their governing bodies. In the process, the Council contributes to efforts to improve the fairness and functioning of Native American tribal courts and to correct misperceptions about tribal courts and governments. It strives to:
- Build public and legal-profession awareness of, and respect for, tribal courts;
- Encourage lawyers to become familiar with laws relating to Native Americans and to consider practicing in Indian Country;
- Press Congress to nominate more Native American federal judges and pass legislation of importance to Native American tribes and individuals; and
- Encourage Native American law students to pursue judicial clerkships and internships.
The Tribal Courts Council has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of important programs, including those relating to the Violence Against Women Act and other programs relating to criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. The Council presented “Spotlight on the Violence Against Women Act of 2013: A Practical Guide to the Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Pilot Projects and What to Expect After March 2015” at the ABA’s 2015 Midyear meeting in Houston, TX.
Judge Lisa Atkinson currently chairs the Tribal Courts Council and is Chair-Elect of the National Conference of Specialized Court Judges.