Tribal Judicial Institute
TJI exists to provide assistance and support to Indian tribes nationwide as they create, implement and enhance their justice systems. The Institute has received several grants to support tribal judicial systems, including, but not limited to:
- The Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide training and technical assistance to support tribal courts and tribal court development.
- The Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime to provide trainings to federal and tribal judges on child sexual abuse in Indian country.
- The Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families to assist Indian tribes to develop Title IV-D appropriate child support enforcement codes.
- The STOP Violence Against Women Office to assist Tribes in combating domestic violence in their communities.
- Various tribal and non-profit organizations to assist in a variety of specialized objectives for Indian tribes.
In addition to these projects, the Institute has participated in a variety of tribal-state forums in the Dakotas and Minnesota and has facilitated the improved relations between federal and tribal courts nationwide.
Who We Are
TJI staff members have presented at more than 200 national and regional conferences since 1995 including the American Indian Justice Conference, Indian Nations Conference, Department of Justice events, United States Federal Courts conferences, the Federal Bar Association, American Bar Association events and National American Indian Court Judges' Conferences. Collectively staff members have subject matter expertise to offer that includes, but is not limited to, the following areas:
- tribal justice system and tribal court enhancement
- tribal code and policy development
- tribal criminal and civil jurisdiction
- sentencing and alternatives
- tribal court diversionary programming
- domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence
- Indian child welfare
BJ has more than 25 years experience as a tribal judge for various Tribes in the Northern Plains area. BJ has served in trial courts as well as courts of appeal throughout the region. BJ has been a long-time adjunct faculty member at UND School of Law and has taught courses such as Federal Indian Law, Criminal Law and Jurisdiction in Indian Country, and the Indian Child Welfare Act. BJ serves on the North Dakota Supreme Court's Tribal-State Judges' Committee.
Michelle has more than 20 years experience working in Indian country as a prosecutor, tribal attorney, trial judge and appellate judge. Michelle currently serves at the Chief Justice of the MHA Nation Supreme Court. Michelle has also been a long-time adjunct faculty member at UND School of Law and has taught Federal Indian Law, Tribal Law and Tribal Economic Development. She also serves on the North Dakota Supreme Court's Tribal-State Judges' Committee.
Lynnette has several years of experience working in Indian Country. Mrs. Morin has served as a lay advocate, tribal prosecutor and Wellness Court Judge for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Lynette joined the Tribal Judicial Institute in 2014 and is responsible for project coordination for a multitude of federal grant programs for which the Tribal Judicial Institute provides training and technical assistance.
The founder of the Tribal Judicial Institute (formerly the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Training Institute) is Gene Delorme, the current director of INMED. While serving as Assistant Dean of the Law School, Mr. Delorme convinced the Bush Foundation to provide funding to the Law School for training Tribal court employees in the Dakotas and Minnesota. This seed funding, starting in 1993, allowed TJI to provide training. Continued funding sustained technical assistance provided to Indian tribes until 1998, when the program became one of the original grantees under the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Tribal Court Assistance Program.
In 2001, the Institute was asked by BJA to coordinate training and technic al assistance as part of the Tribal Court Assistance Program and since that time has served as a primary technical assistance provider to the over 250 Indian tribes that have received funding under the Tribal Court Assistance Project and other federal programs aimed at enhancing tribal justice systems. Tribal Justice issues have always been a priority for the Tribal Judicial Institute.