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Domestic Violence Interactive Courtroom


The American Indian Law Center, Inc. (AILC) and the University of New Mexico’s School of Law Southwest Indian Law Clinic (SILC) acknowledge and respect tribal sovereignty and the important historical and legal principle that each tribe is a unique governmental entity.  With this as a starting point, AILC and SILC developed a hypothetical domestic violence case being heard in a tribal court forum.  The hypothetical documents provided in the case files were developed solely for this online training.  The resources found in the bench tools and analysis points are provided for educational purposes and to assist with developing judicial skills related to domestic violence cases within tribal court jurisdictions.      

Selection of Tribal Court Forum

The Office of Justice Services (OJS), Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted tribal court assessments during the years 2005-2010.  A total of 65 tribal court assessments were conducted, with some corrective action plans being developed as a result of the court assessments.  AILC, in collaboration with SILC, reviewed 48 of the court assessments to develop in-person trainings for tribal court judges, tribal court personnel, and tribal prosecutors.  Almost all of the court assessments reviewed were of adversarial tribal court systems.  The data gathered from the court assessments was analyzed and considered when developing the curriculum for the in-person trainings and for this online training.  Therefore, an adversarial court was selected to be the hypothetical tribal court forum for this online training. 

Selection of Resources

The AILC and SILC understand the complex nature of the research needed to develop this online training.  Several types of law from tribal, federal, and state and secondary resources were researched and analyzed for use in this training.  Tribal court bench books, tribal case law, Federal Indian law, and law review articles pertaining to tribal court proceedings and in particular domestic violence cases involving Native American women were reviewed for relevant content.  We conducted our research in the Indian Law Reporter, Versus Law for tribal cases, reports, treatises, WorldCat, and other online resources.

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