An article for Law360 Access to Justice addresses the often extreme circumstances, and vast distances, indigenous victims, defendants and witnesses must traverse in order to testify in court. Many reservations have their own tribal courts. However, due to the complex and ever changing jurisdictional maze for crimes that occur on the tribe-controlled lands many cases end up in federal court.
The article also notes that federal jurisdiction makes life more difficult for Native American defendants, because a crime can carry a harsher sentence just by virtue of where it happened. There are also cultural disparities to consider. Victims are often unsure of how to navigate the federal system and often lack trust in the process because they are forced to rely on people from outside their community.
The article suggests that extending tribal jurisdiction is at the root of the solution to improve the process for Native American victims, defendants, and the community as a whole.
Read the full article here.