The National Tribal Judicial Center at The National Judicial College
DOJ Training area of focus: Court Staff Training
The National Judicial College sets the benchmark for training judges and began training tribal court judges in 1976. Since its foundation in 2002, the National Tribal Judicial Center (NTJC) at the National Judicial College (NJC) has served as a significant resource for tribal judges and other related court personnel who seek to improve their professional skills and court management practices. It is among the first institutions to address the distinctive needs of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal law practitioners and remains one of the few to do so. Judges, peacemakers, and court personnel from many nations from across Indian Country come to the NTJC to learn with and from each other. Since 2002, the NTJC has trained more than 3,000 judges and court personnel. It continues to grow and evolve to meet the tribes' emerging needs for judicial education. The NTJC staff collaborates with its advisory council and partner institutions providing training in Indian Country to develop relevant, practical curricula and programs. Faculty members, many of them tribal judges, are nationally recognized experts actively practicing in their fields. The faculty receives extensive training through NTJC/NJC's faculty development program, which teaches best practice methods in adult learning adapted to the distinct learning styles of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
NTJC remains a leader in tribal judicial training with a curriculum that includes such courses as Essential Skills for Tribal Court Judges, Dispute Resolution Techniques for Tribal Justice Systems, Court Management for Tribal Judges and Personnel, Practical Approaches to Family Issues in Tribal Court, Tribal Court Practice and Procedures, and Handling Domestic Violence Cases, just to name a few. Classes feature an interactive learning environment with significant opportunities to exchange information, share ideas and engage in practical discussions to identify solutions for specific problems and many of the courses are designed for teams. We have modified some of our curricula to respond directly to the appeal of cross-training and more team training opportunities to better benefit learners in Indian Country. During training at our state-of-the-art facility, participants have many opportunities to refine skills and practice new techniques. Additionally, the NTJC has embarked on development of a series of web based courses to reach judges and court personnel who are hampered by minimal travel and training budgets. Judges who take NTJC courses can earn credits toward the National Judicial College's Professional Development Certificate in Tribal Judicial Skills. This innovative program is designed for those who want to concentrate their studies on topics most relevant to judges serving tribal courts. The NTJC is also committed to continuing the movement to encourage collaborative programs between tribal, state and federal justice systems. There is growing support for promoting tribal-state forums and endorsing mentoring opportunities connecting existing forums to evolving forums. NTJC is dedicated to sustain the momentum of this progress in government to government relations for the benefit of all people in all communities. NTJC has directly responded to technical assistance requests in this area as well as to request to provide more condensed trainings in the field on such needed topics as new judge training.
NTJC Advisory Council
The NTJC has an advisory council comprised of ten individuals who were selected based on leadership and experience as tribal judges and on historical service in support of tribal programs at The National Judicial College. Other characteristics, such as geographic diversity and scholarship in federal Indian or tribal law, were also considered. Their insight and candor, as well as experience in the adult education field, have resulted in important institutional changes at The National Judicial College that continue to benefit the tribal judges and court personnel who attend courses. Indian Country is also represented by two individuals selected to serve on two advisory
bodies of the NJC. The Honorable Denette Mouser, Vice Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, joined the NJC Board of Trustees in July 2006. In 2009, The Honorable Elbridge Coochise, faculty member at the NJC since 1993, was elected to the Faculty Council as the Tribal Representative.
The NTJC's target audience continues to be judges, peacemakers and all court related personnel such as court clerks, court administrators, attorneys, lay advocates, probation officers and law enforcement as well as social service providers to tribal communities. Training and Technical assistance is not limited to tribes that have been awarded federal grants such as CTAS.
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