Deputization of Indian Prosecutors: Protecting Indian Interests in Federal Court
24 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2008
Date Written: 2000
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
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