To advance tribal sovereignty through tribal court education.
The Field of Tribal Courts (FOTC) promotes tribal court education to learners across jurisdictions and offers consulting services in tribal court administration development to tribal communities throughout the nation.
Jennifer R. Leal is a descendant from the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California and Mono Lake Paiute tribal communities. She started her tribal court career as a tribal court administrator at her tribe’s court, the Washoe Tribal Court. From 2007 – 2012, she developed experience processing criminal, general civil, family law, dependency, juvenile delinquency, traffic, animal control cases and ICWA transfer cases. Her court record includes clerking over 2,000 hearings and 30 jury trials. She worked with several tribal court-related offices such as adult probation, juvenile probation, domestic violence, social services, truancy, and tribal law enforcement. She also worked with court-appointed public defenders and new attorneys who appeared in tribal court for the first time. While working for a tribe that exercised jurisdiction across two states, she found building working relationships with other California and Nevada tribal courts and local county jurisdictions had a positive impact on how the court would operate in certain areas.
Jennifer contributed to California’s Court Toolkit for Tribal/State/Federal Administrators and Clerks, had the privilege to work and teach at national tribal court education programs, and co-presented at the National American Indian Court Judges’ Association in 2018 and 2019. She received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in American Indian Studies from UCLA.
Her experience as a tribal court administrator combined with challenges facing tribal courts today served as her inspiration to develop the Field of Tribal Courts.
T'ANU ʔIWI GUWA =
TRIBAL COURT =
PLACE THAT LOOKS OVER THE PEOPLE