Tribal Judges Association Revives National Resource Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tribal Judges Association Revives National Resource Center

Boulder, Colorado — February 12, 2012
Contact: Jill E. Tompkins 720.479.2950; jtompkins@casey.org
 
The newly elected members of the National American Indian Court Judges Association’s (NAICJA) Board of Directors voted on February 9, 2011 to re-establish its National Tribal Justice Resource Center (NTJRC) back in Boulder, Colorado where it originated in 2000.  Boulder is also the home of the Native American Rights Fund, the National Indian Law Library and the University of Colorado Law School’s American Indian Law Program. The return to NTJRC’s birthplace will give NAICJA additional support and access to important Indian law resources.
 
Thanks in large part to a half-million dollar two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, the NTJRC will again be able to provide training and technical assistance to tribal justice systems across the United States. Partnering with the National Judicial College (NJC) and the Tribal Judicial Institute (TJI) of the University of North Dakota, NTJRC will develop and present three training sessions aimed at strengthening and enhancing tribal criminal justice systems. Scholarships for tribal judges, tribal prosecutors, defense counsel and lay advocates will be available for tribes without the necessary funds can send their personnel to the trainings at NJC in Reno, Nevada. Under the grant, TJI in consultation with NTJRC will provide on-site technical assistance to tribal criminal justice systems. A publication highlighting tribal best practices in criminal justice will be developed.
 
NAICJA, established in 1969, is a voluntary association of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal court judges and others interested in supporting and improving tribal justice administration. NAICJA provides a national voice for tribal courts in advocating for: adequate operations funding, federal legislative initiatives intended to improve the safety of tribal communities and the development of tribal-federal-state efforts collaborations to improve the administration of justice in Indian Country. In October 2011 at its National Tribal Judicial Conference at the Tunica-Biloxi reservation, LA, a new board of directors was elected to two-year terms to oversee NAICJA. The
majority of board is first time directors. Newly elected to NAICJA’s Executive Committee are (with tribal court affiliation listed): Judges Jill E. Tompkins (Penobscot) President; Richard Blake (Hoopa Valley), First-Vice President; Kevin Briscoe (Mississippi Band of Choctaw), Second-Vice President; Winona Tanner (Salish & Kootenai); Treasurer, Amanda Rockman (Ho-Chunk) Secretary, Cheryl Fairbanks (Intertribal Court of NV), At Large Member and Winnifred Thomas (Oneida Nation of WI), At Large Member. Additional board members include: Judges Darrell Dowty (Cherokee), James Sheppard (Central Tribal Council, AR), Mark Pouley (Swinomish), Richard Jackson (Fort Peck), Brenda Dupris (Cheyenne River Sioux), Herb Yazzie (Navajo), Peggy L. Bird (Pueblo of Laguna) and Rusty Swan (Kenatize) and Susan Wells (Kenatize).
 
NAICJA President Tompkins said, “NAICJA had a couple of difficult years when we lost the funding for the NTJRC. Strong tribal courts are essential to the safety, economic development and well-being of tribal nations. We are excited to be back in a position to provide support and assistance to tribal justice systems across the country.”