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State-Tribal Justice Forum

In July of 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance sponsored a national gathering to foster tribal-federal-state court relations. This conference titled, Walking on Common Ground: Pathways to Equal Justice served as the catalyst for Wisconsin to reconvene its State-Tribal Justice Forum. The re-established committee began meeting again in 2006. Forum membership consists of five circuit court judges, five tribal judges, one tribal attorney, one legislative liaison, one district court administrator, and the director of state courts.

The committee's general charge is to promote and sustain communication, education and cooperation among tribal and state court systems and will work to promote initiatives outlined in the final report of the Walking on Common Ground conference. The following state court judges have been appointed by the Chief Justice to serve on the State-Tribal Justice Forum:

The Forum's highest profile work to date has centered on issues of concurrent jurisdiction and transfer of jurisdiction.  Through the Discretionary Transfer of Civil Cases to Tribal Court, Wisconsin state courts are provided the ability to transfer civil cases of concurrent jurisdiction to tribal courts when deemed appropriate through the application of enumerated standards.  

This rule strives to streamline the process by allowing tribal litigants to request transfer from state court using the standards provided in the rule. State court judges then have the ability to decide whether to transfer the case based upon these same standards. 

View the rule Adobe PDF
View the amendment to the rule Adobe PDF

Previous to the rule state courts employed the Teague Protocol which requires cases be filed in both state and tribal courts, which in turn requires tribal and state litigants to pay filing fees, fill out paperwork, and make arrangements for two court proceedings. 

View information and samples of State-Tribal Protocols established in Wisconsin prior (all documents are in Adobe PDF Adobe PDF format):

For more information, contact Bonnie MacRitchie, senior policy analyst at (608) 261-7550.

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