Professor Diamond with Yaqui members

Ph.D Candidate and Yaqui Historian AnaBell Galindo, Rio Yaqui elder Modesto Bule, Director of Language and Culture at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Daniel Vega, IPLP Tribal Justice Clinic Director Jim Diamond, and Arizona law student and Pascua Yaqui community member Francisco Olea (Pictured left to right)

 

Tribal Justice Clinic

IPLP Clinics and Experiential Learning > Tribal Justice Clinic

Directed by Professor James Diamond, students enrolled in IPLP’s Tribal Justice Clinic provide legal assistance to tribes throughout the Southwest, North America, and the world. Students serve as tribal judicial clerks, write amicus briefs, develop legal strategies, and work beside criminal defenders and tribal prosecutors in courtroom settings. They contribute to important tribal justice projects, researching best practices, drafting legislation, and developing tribal codes.

Students research legal issues and help try cases in support of tribal efforts to improve the administration of justice and good governance in Indian Country. The Tribal Justice Clinic gives students vital experience working with tribal communities on emerging legal and policy issues, preparing them as lawyers to enter the field with practical experience and established relationships with community leaders.

Clinic Projects

Students have been involved in legal research and advocacy on the following important and timely topics facing indigenous peoples across the United States including the Violence Against Women Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, disenrollment, and many more. Students working in the clinic have: 

  • Drafted model jury instructions for a local tribe now applying VAWA criminal jurisdiction
  • Wrote and filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in the Aguayo v. Jewell case on behalf of 63 tribal members who were disenrolled after the tribe, using a questionable process, redefined the amount of Indian blood required for membership 
  • Provided Indian law research for a Native American woman now facing execution for four homicides occurring on a California Rancheria  
  • Provided legal research for an Arizona tribe filing a brief in a far-reaching challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • Wrote a student practice rule for a local tribe so that future clinic students can appear as advocates in tribal court
  • Drafted a model code of ethics for attorneys and advocates appearing in an Arizona tribal court
  • Provided legal research for a local tribe now applying VAWA criminal jurisdiction about how to manage confidential personal criminal records and other data
  • Wrote a bench book for tribal court judges for use in conducting VAWA probable cause hearings
  • Provided a legal research update for a gaming tribe on the most recent developments in the law   

Practical Experience

Students gain practical experience in criminal law, civil litigation and procedure, and trial advocacy within tribal court settings. The Tribal Justice Clinic gives students vital experience:

  • Working with tribal communities on emerging legal and policy issues
  • Gaining trial advocacy skills for clients in tribal court systems
  • Advocating for justice within tribal communities
  • Researching critical issues in federal Indian law
  • Establishing relationships with community leaders

Tribal Justice Clinic Director, Professor James Diamond

Professor James Diamond completed his Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) with IPLP in 2014. His doctoral dissertation focused on reconciliation after mass shootings and the history of criminal dispute resolution among the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and other indigenous communities. Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Criminal Trial Specialist, Diamond has tried more than 30 jury trials to verdict. Over the course of his career he has represented clients in pre-trial hearings, trials, and appeals, defending more than 1,000 criminal cases. He advises tribes and has conducted training of tribal court prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges on trial skills and procedures in tribal courts.