Tribal/State Joint-Jurisdiction Courts

In California, state and tribal courts share concurrent jurisdiction over many case types. Rather than choosing between either state or tribal court jurisdiction, in a joint-jurisdiction court the tribal court judge and the state (or federal) court judge come together to simultaneously exercise their respective jurisdiction. Sharing and coordinating jurisdiction allows the leveraging of resources from each jurisdiction to improve outcomes. There are currently joint-jurisdiction courts operating in El Dorado, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties. This page includes information on how these courts work and how they can be established in California.

(Live Webinar recorded December 14, 2021)  

Listen: 1:28:43External link icon (TranscriptPDF file type icon) (Further ResourcesPDF file type icon) (Policies, Procedures, and TipsPDF file type icon)

Faculty: Hon. Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribal Court; Hon. Joyce D. Hinrichs, Presiding Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Humboldt; Hon. Victorio Shaw, Chief Judge Shingle Springs Tribal Court; Jenny Walter, Attorney, Hedger & Walter, LLP & the Tribal Law and Policy Institute.

Native Americans continue to be over-represented in the state and federal criminal justice systems and disproportionately subject to incarceration. Data from 2019 indicates that incarceration of Native Americans is up a shocking 85% since 2000. Tribal populations experience high rates of violence, domestic abuse, and substance abuse. State/Tribal Joint Jurisdictional Approach and Courts offer a promising best practice to improve outcomes in domestic violence and other criminal cases involving Native Americans.  In this webinar you will hear from Judges and other professionals working to expand joint jurisdiction courts. The webinar provides an overview of joint jurisdiction approach; discusses the legal basis for joint jurisdiction courts; discusses how to establish a joint jurisdiction court; examines some of the issues and challenges that may arise; and discusses efforts in Humboldt and El Dorado Counties to expand the work of joint jurisdiction approach into areas of domestic violence and criminal law.

Wellness Court Collaborations (National Resources compiled by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute)

Tribal/State Collaboration: Transfer Agreements, Joint Jurisdiction Courts and Beyond (Video presentation taped July 26, 2021 as part of the 10th Annual Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts Enhancement Training)

Presenters: Lauren van Schilfgaarde, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Legal Development Clinic Director, UCLA School of Law Suzanne Garcia, Child Welfare Specialist, Tribal Law and Policy Institute

Workshop Description: Tribes have limited and complex jurisdiction, restricting their ability to effectively respond. States struggle to provide culturally-appropriate services and ancillary services that are relevant and useful to participants that are from tribal communities. To combat these deficiencies, some jurisdictions have joined forces. Collaboration varies in form and can range across a wide spectrum. This workshop will explore this spectrum as actualized by operational courts. Examples will include informal collaborations, transfer agreements, and joint jurisdiction courts. Across jurisdictions the legal landscape, historical context, needs of participants, availability of services, and personalities of the teams have all varied. But they share a desire to work together to maximize the outcomes for their participants.

Additional materials and sessions available at:

Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: Intergovernmental Collaboration (Tribal Law and Policy Institute, 2021), is intended to assist Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts interested in building intergovernmental collaborations, including tribal-state collaborations. Whether a Wellness Court has been operational for decades or is still in the planning process, collaboration is essential. This resource frames the subject by providing a brief history of Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, discusses some common traits found in existing collaborations, and then uses those common traits to discuss actual collaborations that are operating in the Tribal Wellness Court context.