Federal Register

This final rule revises one section of our regulations to provide that the current list of areas in Indian Country with Courts of Indian Offenses (also known as CFR Courts) will be published and updated in the Federal Register and on the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) website. Currently, that section of the Code of Federal Regulations, itself, lists the areas in Indian Country with CFR Courts, requiring a rulemaking each time a court is added or deleted. Allowing for publication in the Federal Register, in lieu of a rulemaking, will better keep Tribal members and the public updated on the current status of the Courts of Indian Offenses.

Generally, Courts of Indian Offenses operate in those areas of Indian country where Tribes retain jurisdiction over Indians that is exclusive of State jurisdiction, but where Tribal courts have not been established to fully exercise that jurisdiction. The Code of Federal Regulations, at 25 CFR 11.100, currently lists each Tribe for which Courts of Indian Offenses have been established.

On occasion, a Court of Indian Offenses is established or re-established or, alternatively, a Court of Indian Offenses ceases operation because BIA and a Tribe enter into a contract or compact for the Tribe to provide judicial services or the Tribe establishes a court system that meets regulatory requirements. Each time one of these changes occurs, the list of Courts of Indian Offenses must be updated for public transparency. Because the list of Courts of Indian Offenses is directly in § 11.100, a rulemaking is required to change the list. During the time it takes to conduct a rulemaking, the list in the Code of Federal Regulations is not accurate.

On July 23, 2019, BIA published a proposed rule to remove the list of CFR Courts from the regulations and instead require the BIA to publish the current list and any updates to the current list in the Federal Register and on its website. 84 FR 35355. During the public comment period, BIA received one comment which suggested requirements related to Tribal courts, which are not relevant to this rulemaking. Therefore, BIA made no changes to the proposed rule.

This final rule allows enables BIA to keep the list of CFR Courts updated and accurate, improving transparency for Tribal members and the public who wish to know what areas in Indian Country have CFR Courts established. The rule also revises § 11.104 to clarify that the list would no longer be published directly in § 11.100, but rather would be published in accordance with the directions in § 11.100 to publish in the Federal Register and on the BIA website.