Tribal courts plan for public defense, as they take jurisdiction over felonies

BY Phyllis E. Mann on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 1:25 PM

As reported by KUOW radio out of Seattle, Washington, tribal courts are gearing up to take jurisdiction over felonies with authority to sentence people to jail for up to three years.  But to do so, public defense attorneys will have to be provided to those who cannot afford their own counsel. 

“The Tribal Law and Order Act aims to strengthen tribal policing, as well as the courts.  But the law came with no new funding.  It will be up to the tribes to build in -– and fund -– the safeguards for the accused as well.”  The Tulalip Tribal Court in Washington state, led by chief judge Theresa Pouley, is systematically planning for all aspects of the court’s new jurisdiction, considering the costs of prosecution, defense, and the courts.  These efforts are called for by the ABA Ten Principles of  Public Defense Delivery System, Principle 8 -– “no part of the justice system should be expanded or the workload increased without consideration of the impact that expansion will have on the balance and on the other components of the justice system.”