May 13, 2020 Feature

Yurok Tribe Fishing Court: A Judicial Profile

By Kori Cordero

The Yurok Tribe’s Justice Center sits near the western end of the Yurok Reservation, an hour south of the Oregon-California border and six hours north of San Francisco. Fishing Court is in session, but the parties are outside discussing the last case from the commercial fishing season. The respondent is self-represented and has just been told that the citing Tribal officer unexpectedly couldn’t make it to court. So, the Yurok Tribe’s plan was to request a dismissal because the government is unable to meet its burden of proof without a witness and unwilling to take advantage of the self-represented party’s likelihood to self-incriminate if the hearing began without him understanding the implications of the Tribe’s missing witness.

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