The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the District of Nebraska has jurisdiction on three Indian reservations located in the State of Nebraska. These are: the Winnebago, the Omaha, and the Santee Sioux reservations. The Omaha and Winnebago reservations are contiguous to one another and are situated 80 miles north of the main office of the USAO, which is in Omaha, Nebraska. The Santee Sioux Tribe is located 190 miles northwest of the City of Omaha and 115 miles west of the Winnebago and Omaha reservations.
Additionally, the USAO has jurisdiction under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1152 for all offenses committed by non Native Americans against Native Americans or property owned by Native Americans.
AUSA Michael Norris serves as Tribal Liaison for the District of Nebraska. As such, he: (1) coordinates charges with tribal prosecutors to ensure that serious offenses are known and charged in federal court; (2) contacts tribal police chiefs to review current investigations and prosecutions and to address any matters of concern; (3) advises the United States Attorney on tribal issues; and (4) facilitates the Multidisciplinary Teams (MDT’s) to review the child abuse reports from the state hotline or as reported by local law enforcement or local child welfare agency. The MDT’s are designed to (1) inform tribal prosecutors and law enforcement of the status of federal investigations and prosecutions of child abuse and child sexual abuse cases, (2) to review the inventory of pending tribal investigations and prosecutions of child abuse and child sexual abuse cases to determine whether any cases warrant federal intervention, (3) to consult with counselors, teachers, CAC personnel and social workers about issues regarding the best needs of the child victims, (4) to discuss investigation needs, and (5) to address any law enforcement concerns the prosecutors or police chiefs may have. The Tribal liaison also works closely with the tribal prosecutors from each of the tribes to ensure cases are adequately charged.
Jose Palacios is the Victim\Witness Coordinator assigned to the three reservations. He is responsible for communicating with the victim to keep the victim informed of the progression of the criminal case. This will include use of the Victim Notification System, email, phone, and/or personal visits. The coordinator serves as the liaison between the victim and the assigned AUSA regarding plea negotiations, court appearances, preparation of victim impact statements, and allocution at sentencing. Mr. Palacios also coordinates the logistics of the MDT meetings.
Both the Tribal Liaison and the Victim\Witness Coordinator work to ensure trainings hosted by the United States Attorney’s Office include topics relevant to current issues in Indian Country, domestic abuse, sexual abuse including sexual abuse of children, violence against women, and victim issues. In addition to trainings the United States Attorney’s Office also ensures the Tribal Chairs, Tribal law enforcement chiefs, and tribal service providers are apprised of grant funding opportunities from the Department of Justice.