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WASHINGTON Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Del Laverdure praised a federal training program that is working to develop tribal courts by enhancing and improving the trial advocacy skills of tribal court prosecutors, defenders and judges.
Acting Assistant Secretary-
Indian Affairs Del Laverdure
The Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Program is a joint effort by the US Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior that furthers the mandate of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 to strengthen tribal sovereignty over criminal justice matters on federal Indian lands by strengthening the skills of those who practice within the tribal court system.
“Tribal courts are fundamental to strengthening tribal sovereignty because of their role in administering and dispensing justice in Indian Country,”
“The Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Program is bringing much needed and desired training to those who practice law within the tribal court system, which will only enhance the courts' ability to serve their communities. I am very pleased that this program is already proving its worth, and I want to thank the Justice Department for partnering with us on meeting the Tribal Law and Order Act's mandate in this area.”
The result of a collaborative effort by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services and the Justice Department's Access to Justice Initiative, the Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Program is the first national effort by the Department of the Interior and Justice Department to offer trial advocacy training with courses designed specifically for tribal courts and free training to the judges, public defenders and prosecutors who work in them. Training is provided in three topic areas - domestic abuse, illegal narcotics and sexual assault on children and adults - with faculty and instructional materials prepared by experts knowledgeable about tribal court issues. The program is unique because it also has training specifically for public defenders.
A pilot training session on domestic violence held by the Office of Justice Services and the Access to Justice Initiative in August 2011 in Rapid City, South Dakota, proved so successful that the Office of Justice Services and its federal partners provided funding for seven additional sessions. The first of those, which focused on illegal narcotics, was held March 13-15, 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Each of the six remaining sessions, to be held through the rest of 2012 and into 2013, will focus on one training topic. The schedule for the coming sessions is:
Training is structured in a way whereby participants are brought together for combined training, with breakout sessions provided where prosecutors and defenders can be trained separately to further develop their trial skills. Coursework is focused on evidentiary issues and provides participants with opportunities to work one on one with faculty and practice opening statements, direct examination, cross-examination and closing arguments in a small, courtroom-like setting.
In addition to the Access to Justice Initiative, the Department's other DOJ partners in designing the training program and serving as trainers include the US Attorney's Offices for the Districts of Arizona, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota; the Federal Public Defender's Office for the District of Arizona; and the Administrative Office of the US Courts' Office of Defender Services.
posted June 1, 2012 9:57 am edt
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