The Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship
The Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship, part of the Attorney General's Honors Program, is designed to create a new pipeline of legal talent with expertise and deep experience in federal Indian law, tribal law, and Indian country issues that can be deployed in creative ways to build tribal capacity, combat violent crime, and bolster public safety in Indian country jurisdictions.
The Fellowship is named in honor of the late Gaye L. Tenoso, a Department of Justice attorney whose distinguished service to the Department and the people it serves spanned 30 years. For the last six years of her life Gaye served as the Deputy Director the Office of Tribal Justice. Gaye’s expertise in Federal Indian law and knowledge of tribes enabled her to be an exceptionally effective advisor on litigation and policy matters. She worked tirelessly to ensure that specific protections for Native American women were included in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013. Gaye also mentored many legal interns during her time at the Office of Tribal Justice, and was an inspiration and guide who left a deep impression on many young attorneys.
Prior to serving with the Office of Tribal Justice, Gaye worked for over 25 years in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in the Educational Opportunities Section and the Voting Section. While in the Voting Section, she received the high honor of being invited by the United States Solicitor General to sit at counsel table during the Supreme Court argument in Reno v. Bossier Parish School District. In addition, Gaye led the Civil Rights Division’s Election Monitoring Program to ensure the right to vote for all Americans. Gaye’s passion was to ensure American Indians were provided the same access to voting as others. She was instrumental in bringing cases against counties in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah to provide language assistance at the polls for American Indians, where she helped spearhead unprecedented remedies to provide voting opportunities for all.
Each Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship position offers a 36-month appointment that may be extended or converted to a permanent position at the hiring component’s discretion without further competition. Candidates will interview with a joint panel of attorneys from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) and participating U.S. Attorneys' Offices (USAOs). Candidates who receive an offer of employment will be able to select their assignment preferences from the list of participating USAOs with significant Indian country work. Actual placement will be mutually agreed upon by the Fellow and the District. In addition, individual USAOs may offer additional Indian Country Fellowship positions at their discretion. This year, the Indian Country Fellowship will place one Fellow in a U.S. Attorney's Office (any participating District) with assignment based on mutual agreement of the Fellow and District.
As part of your work with a USAO, Indian Country Fellows will be required to serve 12 months with an appropriate tribal legal entity, typically in a tribal prosecutor’s office. The assignment or detail may consist of a one-year detail to a single tribal legal or governmental entity or two six-month details to different tribal legal or governmental entities.
The Indian Country Fellowship is open to all eligible Honors Program applicants, including current law students graduating in the coming academic year. The 2022-2023 Honors Program application opens on July 31, 2022 and closes on September 6, 2022. There are a few requirements associated with bar admission that applicants should consider:
- Fellows who accept an offer from a USAO located in a jurisdiction that requires State bar admission must become admitted to that bar within 12 months of entry on duty.
- Whether or not the USAO is located in a jurisdiction that requires admission to that State’s bar, all Indian Country Fellows hired by USAOs must be admitted to a bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) within 12 months of appointment.
- Incoming Fellows who are not admitted to a bar (or who have not recently taken a bar with results pending) are expected to take the first available bar examination for which they are eligible (e.g., a May 2022 law school graduate should take the July 2022 bar exam unless eligible to take a spring 2022 bar exam.
- Fellows must meet specific tribal court or bar admission requirements, if relevant to their assigned District.
Placement Opportunities for the 2022-2023 Indian Country Fellowship UPDATES FOR 2023-2024 COMING SOON!
District of Arizona | District of Montana | Eastern District of Oklahoma | Northern District of Oklahoma | District of Oregon | District of South Dakota |Eastern District of Washington
District of Arizona
Bar Admission Requirements: State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required. From a tribal court perspective, an attorney licensed in the State of Arizona and who works for the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Office of the Prosecutor is allowed to represent the Community in the Gila River Indian Community Courts. An application to practice in tribal court must be submitted to the tribal court. Also, pursuant to Gila River Indian Community Code, Courts and Procedure, Chapter 1, §4.107 B, “The following may practice law in the Community Court and Court of Appeals: 1. Any person who is licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona; or 2. Any person who is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe.”
There are 22 federally recognized tribes within the District of Arizona, including much of the Navajo Nation, which is the largest Indian reservation in the country. Reservations comprise a substantial portion (over a quarter) of the state and have a combined population of nearly 340,000, which is the largest tribal population of any District. Because Arizona is not a P.L. 280 jurisdiction, the District of Arizona’s U.S. Attorney’s Office (“USAO”) has jurisdiction to charge major crimes and some misdemeanors occurring in Indian Country. In the Department of Justice’s Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions Report for 2019, the Arizona USAO accounted for over a quarter of the Indian Country matters handled by all USAOs during calendar year 2019; specifically, the Arizona USAO resolved 651 Indian Country matters.
Indian Country matters are a priority for the Arizona USAO. This office has devoted significant resources to prosecution, reentry, training and outreach. The Arizona USAO works closely with the tribes within its jurisdiction to promote public safety in Indian Country. Among the Arizona USAO’s Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tucson offices, more than 20 AUSAs dedicate time to working on Indian Country cases. Most of those AUSAs work Indian Country cases full-time, and most of these cases involve prosecuting serious violent crime, including a high volume of major crimes cases like aggravated assaults, sexual abuse, and murders. AUSAs and Victim-Witness Specialists regularly participate in Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings, and we have established a robust Tribal SAUSA program. We provide training and education to tribal leadership, police, prosecutors, hospital staff, and child protective services. In addition, the office has a dedicated Reentry Coordinator who is working with several tribes – including the Gila River Indian Community (“GRIC”) – to assist with the development of reentry programs. The Office is also interfacing extensively with tribal stakeholders to implement Savanna’s Act to help investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases involving Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP). Federal and tribal prosecutors are on the front lines of coordinating those efforts with all law enforcement partners with investigative jurisdiction in such cases. Given that these cases are a priority for the Office, the Fellow would take on substantial responsibility in helping to address MMIP cases involving GRIC members.
The Arizona USAO is always looking for new and innovative ways to improve public safety and quality of life within Indian Country. Our desire is to have the Indian Country Fellow learn from and experience both the federal and tribal justice systems. The Fellow would have the opportunity to work with GRIC in all areas of prosecution. The Fellow would also have the opportunity to work directly in the federal criminal justice system on Indian Country prosecutions. It is our hope that, through these experiences, the Fellow would be able to absorb the most valuable and worthwhile aspects of both systems and act as a liaison between the two. We likewise would hope to integrate the Fellow into our Office’s federal and tribal reentry work to provide a robust experience that includes both prosecutions and community engagement through reentry programs.
Our desire is to have the Indian Country Fellow learn from and experience both the federal and tribal justice systems. The Fellow would have the opportunity to either work with the Gila River Indian Community ("GRIC") in all areas of prosecution. The Fellow would also have the opportunity to work directly in the federal criminal justice system on Indian Country prosecutions. It is our hope that, through these experiences, the Fellow would be able to absorb the most valuable and worthwhile aspects of both systems and act as a liaison between the two.
- Gila River Indian Community. The Gila River Indian Community is located adjacent to Phoenix, within the Phoenix Metropolitan area in Pinal and Maricopa Counties. The reservation is approximately 583 square miles. According to the 2020 census, the Gila River Indian Community has approximately 10,900 members living on the reservation. The Office of the Prosecutor handles civil traffic and adult criminal matters. In fiscal year 2021, the Office of the Prosecutor filed 600 criminal complaints, of which 168 were felony cases involving 366 separate felonies. The Office employs nine prosecutors.The Gila River Indian Community Police Department (“GRIC PD”), Criminal Investigation Bureau is the primary law enforcement agency for major crimes that occur on the GRIC reservation. The GRIC PD has approximately 14 detectives that are dedicated to working major crime investigations. The GRIC PD is the primary law enforcement agency for tribal offenses and works closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on cases that may get submitted to the United States Attorney’s Office. GRIC exercises special domestic violence jurisdiction under the VAWA and also exercises expanded jurisdiction under the Tribal Law and Order Act.
District of Montana
Bar Admission Requirements: Fellow must be an active member in good standing of another federal bar or of the Bar of the highest court of a State, territory, or insular possession of the United States. Fort Peck Tribal Court requires attorneys to take a Tribal Bar Examination administered by the Tribal Court Administrators Office. Attorneys can file a petition to practice on a single case without taking the bar with the Chief Judge, but the Fellow will likely be required to take the bar examination so he or she can continue to practice in the Tribal Court. There is an annual fee to maintain tribal bar registration.
Montana is a vast state with seven Indian Reservations. The Flathead is the only PL 280 reservation; the other six reservations are under federal jurisdiction. They are the Blackfeet Reservation, the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Fort Belknap Reservation, the Fort Peck Reservation, the Crow Reservation, and the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.
All credible cases alleging crimes set forth in the Major Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1153), and the Indian Country Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1152) are prosecuted by the USAO. Specifically, we prosecute murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, robbery, arson, burglary, and assault cases, and we prioritize cases involving physical and sexual assaults on women and children. In Montana, our commitment to Indian Country is evident by a review of our case and trial numbers. Our Indian Country caseload annually accounts for approximately 1/4 of our overall criminal caseload.
Annually, Indian Country AUSAs average between 20 and 30 indicted cases; they also handle their own appeals. Additionally, Indian Country AUSAs have significant liaison responsibilities that require extensive travel. Federal crimes from the Blackfeet, Rocky Boy’s, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations are prosecuted at Great Falls. Federal crimes from the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations are prosecuted at Billings. Distances from these reservations are a challenge as round trips range from a minimum of 120 miles (Crow to Billings) to a maximum of 650 miles (Fort Peck to Great Falls.) Bad weather, bad roads, as well as the distances involved create significant time and travel issues for AUSAs.
Currently, the Indian Country unit is comprised of two AUSAs in Billings, including a Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney who is responsible for supervising the unit and prosecuting cases arising from the Crow Reservation, and four Indian Country AUSAs in Great Falls, including the district Tribal Liaison. The USAO has a heavy caseload that would provide our Fellow a great opportunity for trial and liaison work. We anticipate offering our Fellow detail opportunities at the Fort Peck tribal courts. Crimes stemming from the use and abuse of alcohol are common, and the abuse and trafficking of methamphetamine and prescription drugs is at epidemic proportions. Fort Peck tribal court handles approximately 3000 cases annually. Fort Peck is a Violence Against Women Act Pilot Project reservation with licensed attorneys prosecuting for the tribe, and a SAUSA that prosecutes in both tribal and federal courts.
Eastern District of Oklahoma
Bar Admission Requirements: Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required. The Fellow must become admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma and in the tribal courts for the Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole, Muscogee (Creek) and Chickasaw Nations.
The Eastern District of Oklahoma (EDOK) includes 26 counties in the State of Oklahoma. Significantly, the EDOK contains the headquarters of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw and Seminole Nations). As a result of the SCOTUS decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma and subsequent opinions from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, the entire EDOK is Indian Country. Consequently, the USAOKE has experienced a massive increase in violent crime case referrals. Since August 2020, the USAOKE has received 5,347 case referrals and opened 1,093 matters in CaseView for potential federal prosecution, the overwhelming majority of which include Murder and Aggravated Sexual Abuse of both adults and children. Currently, the USAOKE has 148 active Murder investigations, 42 Manslaughter investigations, and 52 Aggravated Sexual Abuse of Children investigations. Since August 2020, the USAOKE has presented approximately 50 felony cases to jury trial to include 15 Murders and 17 Sexual Abuse cases.
An Indian Country Fellow (ICF) would be invaluable in assisting the EDOK in liaisoning with the 5 major tribes in the EDOK while navigating the recent sea change in jurisdiction. The USAOKE is receiving cases referrals from law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys within each of the 5 referenced tribes. Having an ICF would allow the USAOKE and the 5 tribes to coordinate case referrals and prosecution of crimes involving Native American suspects and/or Native American victims in both federal and tribal court.
Northern District of Oklahoma
Bar Admission Requirements: Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required. Tribal bar admission is necessary to practice in tribal court, but that may be obtained after appointment, provided Fellow's bar admission is in good standing. Fees are generally waived by the tribe.
In 2021, the NDOK filed 544 cases, the majority of which were Indian Country cases, including murders, child physical and sexual abuse, strangulation, robberies. and other violent crimes. We currently have over 90 homicide cases pending. Since July of 2020. and the landmark Supreme Court case U.S. v. McGirt, our office size and caseload has increased drastically. Of the 52 AUSAs in the NDOK, 25 are solely assigned to Indian Country crimes. Our office annually conducts several trainings to attorneys, tribal, state, and federal law enforcement, casino personnel, and child welfare workers.
The Northern District of Oklahoma lies entirely within the area formerly known as Indian Territory. The site of the forced removal of several tribes, Oklahoma has a very diverse and unique history. The Northern District of Oklahoma is the home of the second largest city in Oklahoma, Tulsa. NDOK encompasses eleven counties in the northeastern part of Oklahoma. Located within the District are fourteen Federally recognized tribes: (1) Cherokee Nation; (2) Muscogee (Creek) Nation; (3) Modoc Tribe; (4) Osage Nation; (5) Delaware Tribe; (6) Seneca-Cayuga Tribe; (7) Miami Tribe; (8) Peoria Tribe; (9) Quapaw Tribe; (10) Wyandotte Tribe; (11) Eastern Shawnee Tribe; (12) Pawnee Nation; (13) Ottawa Tribe; and (14) Shawnee. Oklahoma has the second highest American Indian/Alaska Native population (12.9%), second only to Alaska. Each tribe has their own government, some resembling the federal government's structure and some based more on historical structures. The USAO is committed to maintaining a government-to-government relationship with each of these tribes, and striving to meet the Federal trust responsibility with regard to justice issues. Throughout the District exists various types of Indian Country, as defined in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1151. Indian County in NDOK consists of at least three reservations - Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Cherokee Nation, and Quapaw Tribe. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is the most populous reservation in the Nation with a population of over 500,000 people. In addition to the reservations, NDOK contains Indian lands that may be classified as either trust land or restricted allotment land. With the 500%+ increase in caseload, assistance is greatly needed.
District of Oregon
Bar Admission Requirements: State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required. The Fellow must become admitted to the bar of the Umatilla Tribal Court. To be eligible, the Fellow must be a member in good standing of any tribal or State bar, petition for admission, and file an admission fee of $100.00.
The District of Oregon has nine federally recognized tribal nations. The five tribes impacted by Public Law 280 are the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians; Coquille Indian Tribe; Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; Klamath Tribes; and Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.
The District of Oregon has the equivalent of three full-time Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) and a dedicated Tribal Victim Specialist to prosecute the Indian Country criminal caseload, including violent crimes (homicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, gang assaults, and firearms offenses), drug trafficking organizations, and fraud/embezzlement cases. The District’s Major and General Crimes Act jurisdictional authority is focused on four tribal governments – Burns Paiute Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. The criminal jurisdiction regarding the remaining five (5) tribes is impacted by Public Law 280. We also have a full time Indian Country Liaison in our Eugene branch office.
The Indian Country Fellow would work on a wide variety of cases in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland, Oregon as well as with the CTUIR Tribal Prosecutor in the CTUIR Tribal Court. The District of Oregon has a Tribal Special AUSA (SAUSA) on Indian Country cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sex trafficking linked to intimate partner violence. The Tribal SAUSA is the CTUIR Tribal Prosecutor. The Indian Country Fellow would have the opportunity to complement the Tribal Prosecutor’s work, as well as covering other types of cases in Tribal and Federal Court. The CTUIR Tribal Court implemented the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA), improving the justice system, granting Tribal Courts tougher sentencing powers for crimes, and expanding coordination between federal agencies and the tribal justice system. The Indian Country Fellow would work closely with the AUSA and the Tribal Prosecutor in organizing periodic training and case reviews with the Umatilla Tribal Police Department.
The Indian Country Fellow would have an unparalleled opportunity to try cases in two excellent trial settings, federal court and CTUIR Tribal Court, supported by enthusiastic and knowledgeable coworkers and team members. The Indian Country caseload in the District of Oregon caseload is as intense and interesting as any jurisdiction in the country and will provide the recipient of the Indian Country Fellowship a challenging and rewarding experience.
Finally, the Indian Country Fellow could work to develop a library of protocols, pleadings, and memos around victim rights for Indian Country cases. Most of the federal cases handled by the USAO are victim cases. The Tribal Victim Assistance Specialist position allows the utilization of victim rights statutes to enhance legal and physical safety protections for the vulnerable victims out of these cases. The Indian Country Fellow would research utilizing victim rights in enhancing victim safety in federal cases, and develop standard pleadings and memos to place victim safety at the forefront of Indian Country cases.
The District of Oregon and the CTUIR entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for a Tribal SAUSA to dedicate his time exclusively to the investigation and prosecution of Indian Country cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and certain sex trafficking cases linked to intimate partner violence. The Indian Country Fellow would spend one year or two six month terms at the CTUIR Tribal Prosecutor’s Office complementing the Tribal SAUSA’s work by covering other aspects of prosecution. This will fill a need for the Tribal Prosecutor’s Office, as well as provide a valuable resource to the CTUIR. We would execute another MOU with the CTUIR detailing the terms of the Indian Country Fellow’s participation at the CTUIR Tribal Prosecutor’s Office.
The Indian Country Fellow would also work with tribal officers in charging, negotiating and trying federal misdemeanor cases in the U.S. Magistrate Court in Pendleton, Oregon, on a bi-monthly basis. The United States District Court for the District of Oregon approved a CVB collateral schedule for Indian Country, enabling tribal officers to cite non-Indians for specified misdemeanors on tribal lands. The Indian Country Fellow would work closely with Portland-based AUSAs in supervising law clerks who appear on some of these matters, as well as in developing appropriate training in investigation and court appearances for the tribal officers issuing CVB citations.
When working in the Portland office, the Indian Country Fellow will have the opportunity to serve as a second chair in appropriate Indian Country felony trials, and possibly lead counsel as the Fellowship progresses. The Fellow will also have the opportunity to work on cases from the CTUIR, the Warm Springs Reservation, the Burns Paiute Reservation, and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians.
Indian Country cases often involve some of the most vulnerable victims; institutional racism and disenfranchisement, intergenerational trauma, polyvictimization, addiction, and poverty in many of these cases combine to be seemingly insurmountable barriers to safety. The USAO has a need for an attorney to explore utilizing victim rights statutes and streamlining victim protection efforts via the legal system for our most vulnerable victims.
District of South Dakota
Bar Admission Requirements: State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required. If the Fellow is not a member of the South Dakota Bar Association, we will coordinate as necessary to ensure all court requirements are met for any matters in which the Fellow becomes involved. Importantly, the District Court’s Local Rules of Criminal Practice require that an Assistant United States Attorney who is a member of the bar of another United States district court and not admitted to the South Dakota Bar will have 12 months from the date of the attorney’s oath of office for the position in South Dakota to be admitted to the South Dakota bar.
The District of South Dakota is home to nine federally-recognized Indian reservations. They are the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Flandreau, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, and Yankton reservations. Indian Country crime constitutes the largest percentage of criminal cases prosecuted by our office. On average, these cases constitute between 25% and 50% of our annual criminal caseload. For instance, in 2020, out of 546 defendants prosecuted by our office, 210 were Indian Country defendants. In 2021, out of 636 defendants, 160 were Indian Country defendants. So far in 2022, our office has prosecuted 246 defendants, and 81 have been Indian Country defendants.
The majority of the Major Crimes Act crimes prosecuted in this district concern Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Sexual Abuse. Each of the district’s three offices, Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Rapid City, employ Assistant United States Attorneys responsible for prosecuting such cases, respectively, on each of the nine reservations in the district.
The Pine Ridge Reservation, in particular, is a source of an enormous number of cases annually. It is our practice not to decline a case for lack of adequate resources. If a federal Indian Country crime has been committed, and we are convinced we can succeed in a prosecution in accordance with the Principles of Federal Prosecution, we will pursue the case. We are convinced, however, that there are cases that do not come to our attention because of a lack of reporting and/or communication from the tribal law enforcement authorities and other tribal social services agencies. The addition of an Indian Country Fellow will help identify, preliminarily investigate, and follow through with prosecutions of such cases. Many unreported crimes involve domestic violence and sexual assaults. Embedding the Fellow in the Tribal Attorney General’s Office (with its close physical proximity to the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety) should result in the reporting of new cases of which we might not, for a variety of reasons, otherwise be made aware. This exposure is particularly helpful in pursuing Habitual Domestic Violence prosecutions.
This opportunity will also greatly benefit the selected Fellow. The Fellow will be afforded the opportunity to work with any of our three dynamic offices:
• The Rapid City office consists of seven prosecutors and a supervisor, all of whom prosecute cases emanating from the Pine Ridge reservation. The Fellow will be exposed to all the reservation has to offer by way of cultural, social, criminal justice, and governmental functions. In addition, the USAO has an exceptional relationship with the tribe’s executive leadership, the tribal council, and the tribe’s Attorney General. Our prosecutors appear frequently in federal court for pre-trial, Rule 11, suppression, trial, and sentencing hearings addressing Indian Country crime. Placement in this office offers an unparalleled opportunity for a highly motivated Fellow to experience the full gamut of the Indian Country prosecution experience.
• The Pierre office, which also consists of seven prosecutors and a supervisor, is centrally located within the State and handles cases from five separate reservations, including Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Rosebud, and Standing Rock. Cheyenne River, Rosebud, and Standing Rock are similarly situated to Pine Ridge with regard to criminal justice systems. Of particular note, Standing Rock has adopted the Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction provision within the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”). Accordingly, although the tribe has not yet adopted felony jurisdiction, it does exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians for crimes of domestic violence.
• The Sioux Falls Office, which serves as the District’s headquarters, consists of seven prosecutors, along with the District’s Deputy Criminal Chief and Criminal Chief. The Sioux Falls Office handles cases from Sisseton, Flandreau, and Yankton. Sisseton has adopted both the Tribal Law and Order Act and the special VAWA provisions, which means Sisseton is exercising felony sentencing authority and assuming jurisdiction over non-Indians for crimes of domestic violence.
The Fellow will also engage in community outreach with tribal partners to build cooperative and productive relationships based on mutual trust and respect. The Fellow will join AUSAs in providing training and information to local school officials, Indian Health Services personnel, community groups, MDTs, and youth organizations. The Fellow will also participate in meetings with law enforcement, advocates for victims of domestic violence and abuse, state and tribal social services providers, and multi-jurisdiction medical personnel to address the best ways to protect vulnerable women, children, elders, and others, and to ensure the provision of all necessary services.
Eastern District of Washington
Bar Admission Requirements: State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required. Tribal bar admission standards vary by tribe:
- Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation - To represent the Tribe as a prosecutor or attorney, a person must be a Tribal official or professional attorney, of good moral character, approved by the court, sign and take an oath, and pay an admission fee.
- Kalispel Tribe of Indians - Requires taking the Spokesperson's Oath, payment of any applicable bar admission fees, and membership in good standing in any other jurisdiction in which the applicant is licensed
- Spokane Tribal Court - To represent the Tribe as a prosecutor or attorney, a person must be a Tribal official or a professional attorney, approved by the Tribal Court.
- Yakama Nation - Prosecutors are required to be bar licensed
The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for Eastern District of Washington has an extensive Indian country caseload and presence. Both the Spokane Main Office and the Yakima Branch office have multiple pending cases arising in Indian country, including murder charges, violent assaults, child abuse, child exploitation, cyberstalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, kidnapping, drug offenses, firearms offenses, as well as burglary and robbery matters. At the present time, Spokane has approximately 19 active cases charged pursuant the 18 U.S.C. § 1152 (General Crimes Act) and § 1153 (Major Crimes Act). The Yakima office has 27 active cases charged pursuant to §§ 1152 and 1153.
The cases prosecuted in Eastern Washington are diverse and demonstrate the USAO’s commitment to ensuring justice on behalf of all victims, including in cases arising in Indian country. In doing so, we seek to prioritize the most serious cases involving victims of violent crime. The Yakima Branch Office, for example, currently has seven defendants charged with first or second-degree murder. The Yakima office also is investigating several additional homicides occurring within the boundaries of the Yakama Nation, involving both Indian and non-Indian victims. Earlier this year, a federal jury in Spokane found an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation guilty of, inter alia, four first degree murders, kidnapping of a minor, and carjacking. All the offenses were committed within a 24 hour period on the Yakama Nation.
A Fellow who serves in the Eastern District of Washington will immediately become a part of the USAO team, and he or she will take on responsibilities similar to those of an Assistant United States Attorney. The Fellow would serve in a hybrid role – prosecuting cases for the USAO on behalf of one or more tribes. The USAO will provide the fellow with robust training opportunities, including locally and through the National Advocacy Center. The USAO has a mentoring program designed to ensure new attorneys have the resources they need to succeed in the various phases of criminal prosecution.
Upon successful completion of the fellowship, the USAO may offer the Fellow a permanent position as an Assistant United States Attorney without further competition.
The USAO is committed to building safer and stronger communities in the Eastern District of Washington. Our District recognizes that Native Americans experience some of the highest rates of violence in the country, a situation that is all the more tragic in light of the generations of trauma already suffered by Indigenous people. We also recognize the general trust relationship between the United States and the Tribes, and we continually seek to do our part to prosecute violent offenders who jeopardize the public safety of tribal communities in Eastern Washington.
The District’s main office is located in downtown Spokane, overlooking Spokane Falls. The Spokane office serves the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. The Indian country cases prosecuted by the Spokane office are both numerous and diverse, including, but not limited, to murder, armed carjackings, sexual abuse of minors, arson, child abuse, child pornography, firearms offenses, strangulations, burglary, domestic violence recidivism, and distribution of controlled substances.
Our Yakima Office is located in the Yakima Valley, in the shadows of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. The office serves the largest Tribal Nation in the District – the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. Since 2019, the Yakama Nation has experienced unprecedented levels of violent criminal activity, which led the Yakama Nation Tribal Council to declare a public safety crisis and to pass a resolution addressing criminal activity on the reservation. That wave of criminal activity has started to wane, which is largely due to an increased federal presence and prosecutions of violent crime. Like the Spokane office, AUSAs in the Yakima office handle a variety of cases, ranging from domestic violence to sexual assault, child exploitation, carjackings, shootings, drug distribution, murder, etc. The USAO is currently handling more than 20 active homicide cases.
Both the Spokane and Yakima offices are comprised of experienced attorneys, most of whom have vast experience prosecuting Indian county cases. Nearly all of the AUSAs have handled numerous trials on behalf of the United States. Our attorneys take pride in their trial skills, and recognize the importance of mentorship and training opportunities. Many of the cases that go to trial in the Eastern District have some nexus to Indian country, which ensures the Fellow would have numerous opportunities to gain trial experience in federal court and work with AUSAs who have tried cases in the Eastern District and elsewhere.
The USAO also enjoys a tremendous working relationship with our law enforcement partners, including in Indian country matters. Both the Spokane and Yakima offices work closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tribal police departments, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In fact, as part of the United States’ commitment to the Tribal communities in our District, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently increased its Yakima field office from four special agents to seven, with three additional task force officers. Two task force officers are expected to be joining the Yakima Branch Office in the coming months.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington enjoys an outstanding relationship with tribal law enforcement for each of the four Tribal Nations in the Eastern District. This relationship has served to benefit the District greatly and has resulted in robust caseload in both the Yakima and Spokane offices. The Yakima Branch Office serves the Yakama Nation, which is minutes away from the USAO Yakima Branch Office and the Yakima Federal Courthouse. The Spokane Main Office serves the Spokane, Kalispel, and Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. While these Tribal nations are 1-2 hours from the Spokane Office, frequent travel generally is not necessary.