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Deputization of Indian Prosecutors: Protecting Indian Interests in Federal Court

24 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2008  

Larry Cunningham

St. John's University School of Law

Date Written: 2000

Abstract

Indian Law is full of jurisdictional traps for the unwary. This article proposes a solution to address one such trap that has caused harm to Indian tribes.

When a non-Indian commits a crime in Indian country, he or she must be prosecuted in federal court. State courts lack jurisdiction over the case, absent statutory authority to the contrary. The Supreme Court held in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe that tribal courts do not have the authority to punish non-Indians for crimes committed in Indian country.

The reality is, however, that many U.S. attorneys do not have the resources or inclination to fully prosecute crimes in Indian country. This article proposes a practical solution to this problem: deputization of Indian lawyers as "Special Assistant United States Attorneys" to prosecute these crimes in federal court.

Keywords: Indian, Native American, prosecution, Oliphant, non-Indian, Indian country, crime

Suggested Citation

Cunningham, Larry, Deputization of Indian Prosecutors: Protecting Indian Interests in Federal Court (2000). Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 88, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1167798

Larry Cunningham (Contact Author)

St. John's University School of Law ( email )

8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States
718-990-7616 (Phone)

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