Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals (SWITCA)
SWITCA is an impartial appellate court forum for the review of tribal court decisions. It also provides training, technical assistance, legal research, and support services.
Since its inception in 1989, SWITCA has served Tribes and Pueblos located in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas.
Funded by: BIA
The SWITCA Reporter includes all cases and opinions issued by the Court beginning with its first case in 1990.
Appellate Law Lingo
Define SWITCA Region: Tribes and Pueblos located in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Texas.
- Appellate Court: A court having jurisdiction of appeal and review; a court to which causes are removable by appeal, certiorari, or error.
- Resolution: The determination or decision, in regard to its opinion or intention, of a deliberative or legislative body, public assembly, town council, board of directors or the like.
- Jurisdiction: The power and authority constitutionally recognized as existing in a court or judge to pronounce the sentence of the law.
- Lower Court: Appeal to a higher court is allowed on a decision made by this court, having jurisdiction to hear a specific case.
- Case: A general term for an action, cause, suit, or controversy, at law or in equity; a question contested before a court of justice; an aggregate of facts which furnishes occasion for the exercise of the jurisdiction of a court of justice.
- Forum: A place where a remedy is sought.
Trainings and Services
SWITCA offers training to tribal court personnel. Other services include technical assistance, legal research, and support services. See our project
list for more information.
SWITCA’s law-trained judges decide appellate cases for tribes and pueblos in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas that lack funding or governmental
infrastructure to run their own court of appeals. Participating Tribal and Pueblo governments confer limited jurisdiction to SWITCA by enacting a tribal council resolution or similar authorization.
SWITCA offers three types of appellate services, one of which a Tribe or Pueblo may designate in its authorizing tribal council resolution:
- An independent appellate court of last resort; or
- An independent appellate court that gives only advisory opinions; or
- An independent, intermediate appellate court from which a party to a case may appeal to the Tribe’s or Pueblo’s highest court.
SWITCA’s other support services—the same as its appellate services – strengthen tribal courts and justice systems without intruding into the internal operations of Tribal and Pueblo governments. These services are available at no cost to all interested tribal leaders, judges, and court personnel in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas as funding allows:
1. Training, technical assistance, legal research, and other services; and
2. Transitions—the American Indian Law Center’s (AILC) Annual Tribal Leadership Conference–which trains tribal council members and court personnel on important topics such as the implications for tribal court jurisdiction of the Tribal Law & Order Act and the Violence Against Women Act.
Thirty-two tribes have benefited from these services in recent years, whether