ICT Interview: Affie Ellis from Indian Law and Order Commission

"In 2010, Congress passed the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA). The act was intended to tackle crime in Indian country, and had a number of provisions such as better data sharing and communication between tribes, state and federal officials, and enhanced sentencing capabilities for tribes.

Affie Ellis is one of the Indian Law and Order Commissioners responsible for writing the TLOA. Ellis’ job has been to conduct field hearings and operate in a fact-finding capacity, and she spoke about some of the issues and comments she’s heard, and begins with the issue of criminal jurisdiction in Indian country.

Q: The Indian Law and Order Commission has spent a great deal of time discussing situations where you have a non-Indian defendant and the tribe has no jurisdiction over that non-Indian person. We’ve talked about a variety of ideas to try and capture those situations where federal prosecutors declined to take those cases. The Supreme Court spoke pretty clearly on this issue in the 1978 Olyphant decision, which said tribes don’t have jurisdiction over non-Indians. So we’ve tried to think outside the box with some of our approaches: do we look at the inherent authority of a tribe to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians?

A: One idea we’ve been kicking around is looking at some kind of delegated federal authority for tribal courts to exercise federal jurisdiction over those non-Indians."

Get the Story:
4 Questions With Affie Ellis on the Tribal Law and Order Act’s Current Status (Indian Country Today 7/31)

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