Seeking Comments in Support of a California Tribal Court/State Court Forum

California is considering enacting a rule of court that would formally establish the California Tribal Court/State Court Forum as a Judicial Advisory Committee – allowing the forum to provide policy recommendations and advice to the Judicial Council on topics the Chief Justice or the Council specifies using the individual and collective experience, opinions, and wisdom of their members.

This rule – Proposed California Rule of Court 10.60, is now circulating for public comment.  These comments will form the official record –  it is crucial that the importance of tribal-state court forums are understood and documented.

The comment period is very short, from July 30, 2013 – August 30, 2013. If you would like to submit a comment or share this information to seek public comment, please forward this link, http://www.courts.ca.gov/invitation-comment-form.htm?proposal=SP13-07&deadline=August%2030,%202013

For more about the great work of the forum, visit : http://www.courts.ca.gov/3065.htm

The Tribal Law and Policy’s Institute’s letter is here:

To Whom it May Concern,

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute submits this letter in strong support of Proposed California Rule of Court, rule 10.60 which would formally establish the California Tribal Court/State Court Forum as a Judicial Council advisory committee.  The forum was created in May 2010 by former Chief Justice Ronald M. George to foster cooperation and communication between tribal courts and the state court, improve the working relationships between these court systems and make recommendations relating to the recognition and enforcement of court orders that cross jurisdictional lines.  The forum has made significant progress in these areas, particularly as it impacts domestic violence, child welfare and dependency matters.  The proposed new rule will help ensure the work of the forum will continue into the future.

The value of tribal-state court forums cannot be understated. It is vital that tribes and states work closely together, particularly in states with criminal jurisdiction in Indian county, under Public Law 280.  Public safety and the effective administration of justice are best achieved with good working relationships that foster a better understanding of shared jurisdiction, open communication across jurisdictions, and partnerships that make effective use of limited resources.

In just 3 years, the California Forum has been successful in these efforts, developing legislative proposal and protocols, providing cross cultural judicial education and nurturing important relationships. Some of this work includes:

  • Recommending legislative proposal to clarify and simplify the recognition of tribal civil judgment; drafting legislative proposal to provide tribal court access to state juvenile court records;
  • Developing a recommended rule and form proposal to revise the rule governing sending the record in juvenile appeals to clarify that if an Indian tribe has intervened in a case a copy of the record of that case be sent to that tribe – adopted by the Judicial Council;
  • Reviewing and providing comments that were incorporated into the final draft of the report on AB 1325 Tribal Customary Adoption;
  • Developing forum rule and form proposal to establish an efficient and consistent statewide procedure for California state courts to register protective orders issues by tribal courts in California – adopted by the Judicial Council;
  • Convening educational events such as tribal courts in action, tribal customary adoption and recognition and enforcement of tribal protection orders;
  • Developing curriculum and bench guides including curriculum on criminal jurisdiction in a Public Law 280 state for state court judges; training videos on cross jurisdictional issues such as guardianship, judge to judge communication, juvenile court jurisdiction; judges guide on tribal communities and domestic violence; Completed curriculum for tribal advocates on the subject of domestic violence and how to navigate the state court system;
  • Convening cross court exchanges;
  • Developing a detailed communication plan;
  • Drafting a document detailing shared values and principals;
  •  Developing local rules and protocols to address where state and tribal court jurisdiction overlap; and
  • Developing a tool kit to assist tribal and state court judges wishing to develop local rules and protocols.

Ongoing projects include gaining tribal read-only access to the California Court Protective Order Registry, and electronic noticing in Indian Child Welfare Cases.

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute provides training and technical assistance to tribal-state collaborations, and as part of that effort we have developed a comprehensive website that provides resources for promoting and facilitating tribal-state-federal collaborations, with a focus on court collaboration (www.WalkingOnCommonGround.org). Because of this work, we are very familiar with the structure and functions of these forms. In our opinion, the California Tribal-State court forum is one of the more successful forums nationwide, due to its proactive agenda, motivated members, equal partnership and effective leadership.   Again, we strongly support Proposed California Rule of Court, rule 10.60  formally establishing the California Tribal Court/State Court Forum.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 323-650-5467 or email Jerry@tlpi.org  or heather@tlpi.org.

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