Are you interested in being an advocate for Indian country?

Tribal court and justice systems play a vital role in determining the quality of life in Indian country reservation communities.  The administration of justice in Indian country by tribal governments includes the sovereign exercise of jurisdictional authority to resolve legal disputes regarding protection of civil rights, business dealings, and family and domestic relations. Tribal courts try criminal charges against tribal members and where recognized by Congressional legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act, against non-Indians as well.

The Tribal Courts and Justice Administration Undergraduate Certificate offered by the University of Arizona College of Law and the School of Government and Public Policy in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is designed to provide a strong foundation in the workings of tribal courts and justice systems for students wishing to pursue careers as tribal judges (​most tribes do not require J.D. law degrees for appointment to the tribal bench), lay advocates, court clerks, probation officers, legal secretaries, assistants and paralegals, tribal law enforcement and game officers, and many other positions and professions connected to the administration of justice in Indian country. The certificate program is well-designed to prepare students who desire to go on to law school and specialize in federal Indian law, tribal justice systems, and Indian country self-governance institutions.

This program prepares you for a wide range of tribal-justice related careers and teaches you the foundations of Native American law and policy. The curriculum covers topics ranging from federal Indian law, tribal courts, tribal criminal law, and tribal family law, all taught by industry leading faculty.

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You can apply directly on our website to be enrolled in the Tribal Courts and Justice Administration Undergraduate Certificate. All that is required in your name, student ID, cumulative GPA, and contact information.

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Curriculum

The Tribal Courts and Justice Administration Undergraduate Certificate is available both to University of Arizona students and to members of the community interested in administering justice in Indian country.

*No more than six (6) units of credit used to complete the certificate can also be used for a current degree requirement (i.e., major, minor, or General Education) or second certificate.

Students pursuing the 12-credit certificate must complete the following required coursework:

  1. Either LAW 402A American Common Law System I (3 units) OR LAW 402B American Common Law System II (3 units)
  2. LAW 450A Native American Law and Policy (3 units)
  3. LAW 467 Tribal Courts Practice and Procedure (3 units)
  4. Either LAW 468 Tribal Criminal Law and Procedure (3 units) OR LAW 469 Native American Family and Domestic Relations Law (3 units)

Students also benefit from a number of experiential learning opportunities, visiting tribal courts and meeting with tribal court judges and administrators.

The American Common Law System I is one of two courses which conveys what is distinctive about the common law approach as a legal methodology and as a reflection and commentary on the history and politics of the American experience, from the early colonial period to the 21st century world of globalized commerce, human rights concerns and environmental and social justice. The course examines the history and sources of the common law, common law modes of legal rhetoric, argument, and communication skills and transformation and adaptation of the common law achieved through social justice and law reform movements. The weekly discussion sections will focus on the development of legal writing, research and critical reasoning skills necessary to solve legal problems, particularly in the context of predictive written communications to various audiences. The American Common Law System I course will focus primarily on Contract Law and Tort Law in the American legal system. Graduate students will be assigned differential graduate-level coursework outlined in the course syllabus.

The American Common Law System II is one of two courses which conveys what is distinctive about the common law approach as a legal methodology and as a reflection and commentary on the history and politics of the American experience, from the early colonial period to the 21st century world of globalized commerce, human rights concerns and environmental and social justice. The course examines the history and sources of the common law, common law modes of legal rhetoric, argument, and communication skills and transformation and adaptation of the common law achieved through social justice and law reform movements. The weekly discussion sections will focus on the development of legal writing, research and critical reasoning skills necessary to solve legal problems, particularly in the context of predictive written communications to various audiences. The American Common Law System II course will focus primarily on Property Law and its intersections with Torts and Contract Law in the contemporary American legal system. Graduate students will be assigned differential graduate-level coursework outlined in the course syllabus.

Explores the place and status of Tribal Governments in our federal system, focusing in particular on federal policy decisions underlying various laws and statutes. The course examines ways to interpret and apply the relevant laws and explores the impact that would be result from changing the policy behind those laws. Graduate students will be assigned differential graduate-level coursework outlined in the course syllabus.

This course provides students with an in overview of the applicable tribal, state and federal laws and procedures governing native nations, with an in-depth examination of Indian tribal courts, their history, procedures along with the roles of their participants. This course will also focus on the organization of the judicial structure within tribal nations. Graduate students will be assigned differential graduate-level coursework outlined in the course syllabus.

This course will cover the basics of criminal law and procedure that apply in tribal courts in the United States. They will gain an appreciation of the complexities of the maze of criminal jurisdiction in this area of law, and the unique problems that face native populations. Graduate students will be assigned differential graduate-level coursework outlined in the course syllabus.

This course concentrates on the role tribal courts and tribal jurisprudence play in regulating family relations impacting indigenous cultural values. Students will learn how the law protects native children and regulates parental rights, guardians, custodians, and the rights of traditional extended families.

Certificate Requirements

In order to apply for the certificate, students must have a 2.5 GPA in at least 45 collegiate units.

In order to complete the certificate, students must meet the 2.5 GPA requirement in the four required courses for the certificate.

Concurrent enrollment in a degree program is allowed, but not required.

Key Contact

Mark L.M. Blair
Associate Director, Master of Legal Studies Program; Undergraduate Law Program, Part-time Professor of Practice
Email: mlmb@email.arizona.edu
Office Phone: 520-626-8575