February 2006 Vol. 104 No. 4 THE REVIEW

American Indians, Crime, and the Law

Kevin K. Washburn

When a Navajo tribal member commits a serious felony against another Navajo on the remote Navajo Indian Reservation, the crime sets in motion not a tribal criminal investigation and tribal court proceeding, but a federal investigation and federal court proceeding under the federal Major Crimes Act. For trial, the Navajo defendant, the Navajo victim, and the witnesses (all of whom are also likely to be Navajo) will be summoned to a federal district court far away from the reservation and the specific community where the crime occurred. Unlike a felony involving only non-Indians, which would be routinely adjudicated at the local county or district courthouse, the Navajo felony will be tried in a distant federal court in Phoenix, Salt Lake City, or Albuquerque.

The federal court operates in a language that is foreign to many Navajos; thus the Navajo defendants, victims, and witnesses may require interpreters to translate the proceedings. Neither the judge, the court reporter, the prosecutor, the court security officers, the deputy marshals, nor the defense attorney or investigator are likely to be Navajo or even understand or speak the Navajo language. Perhaps even more importantly, the federal jury that hears the evidence is unlikely to include a Navajo, or even an Indian, or any other member of the community where the crime occurred.

   //  VIEW PDF
& Other Current Events

Cultivating Inclusion

Twenty-five years ago, law schools were in the developing stages of a pitched battle for the future of legal...

Aftermarketfailure: Windows XP's End of Support

"After 12 years, support for Windows XP will end on April 8, 2014." So proclaims a Microsoft website with...

Globally Speaking—Honoring the Victims' Stories: Matsuda's Human Rights Praxis

Globally speaking, international law and the vast majority of domestic legal systems strive to protect...

Toward A Multiple Consciousness of Language: A Tribute to Professor Mari Matsuda

I am thrilled to be part of this commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Professor Matsuda's...

House Swaps: A Strategic Bankruptcy Solution to the Foreclosure Crisis

Since the price peak in 2006, home values have fallen more than 30 percent, leaving millions of Americans...
MAILING LIST
Sign Up to Join Our Mailing List