December 17, 2007

The state of tribal courts

Tribal justice not always fair, critics contend

Reservation's courts include members as lawyers, judgesAbout half of the more than 560 Indian tribes in the United States have courts, and maybe one-tenth of those use their tribal council as the judges, said Vincent Knight, executive director of the federally funded National Tribal Justice Resource Center in Boulder, Colo.

“That doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be unfair,” Knight said.

Tribal courts nationwide hear a variety of cases. Some have sophisticated systems with appeals courts and independent judiciaries. It is up to each tribe to decide how that is set up.

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