American Judges Association



Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 49, Issue 1 (2013)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


Recognizing the ever-changing landscape and the increasing challenges that face justice systems committed to achieving the promise of “equality before the law,” the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts works to share its collective knowledge about best practices within court systems for achieving fairness and access to justice for all. In celebration of the consortium’s 25th anniversary, Court Review is pleased to present a special issue in collaboration with this organization.

The issue begins with an article by Professor Keith Richotte, Jr., who provides a brief history of tribal courts. The article discusses how tribal courts have blended older tribal common law with Western-inspired sources of law, resulting in innovative ways for tribes to make the common law of the tribal nation speak to issues of the present. Unfortunately, the innovative work that many tribal courts are engaged in is not always recognized and appreciated outside of Indian Country. As a consequence, there remains a fair amount of trepidation about tribal courts. The article posits that this trepidation is founded in the same presumptions about tribal peoples that existed in the nineteenth century and were expressed in the Indian law cases of that era.