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Tribal court improvement grant will upgrade CPN District Court services

The need for court staff and officials to be aware of the latest advances in legal and technological practices when running a court is imperative for those who are subject to its rulings. Thanks in part to a grant worth $100,000 a year from the Administration for Children and Families, the CPN Tribal Court is on its way to keeping the court on the forefront of these advances.

“This grant was a longshot,” explained Vickie Canfield, who oversees the grant for the court. “This was the first year this specific program grant was available, and we were one of 10 courts that qualified. It was very competitive.”

The grant provides funding for six sessions of cross training in the latest tribal court best practices. Specifically, Tribal court officials, Indian Child Welfare and foster care staff will be cross trained on one another’s professional responsibilities, a necessity for a court with limited human resources and an always busy caseload.

“We talk about these tribal court training programs that the Oklahoma-based officials and California-based officials often pass each other in the skies as they head to the other place. These funds will give us the opportunity to get in the same room to hear from each other and learn together,” said CPN District Court Judge Phillip Lujan.

As part of this overhaul, the Tribal court will also digitize many of its court documents.

“Often times, we’ll have a request for paperwork that we as court staff have to copy, mail off and follow up to make sure it arrived by postal service. This grant helps us fund the digitization efforts, and by the end of the process, we’ll have many of our documents online for them to be downloaded,” Canfield explained.

Upgrades to the court’s database will include updating the court’s Juvenile Tribal Codes, the creation of a working file for court official’s professional development records and digitization of court documents. An evaluation board will also be formed, whose purpose will be to examine and determine more efficient procedures in the day-to-day business of the district court.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Court handles civil, criminal, Indian Child Welfare matters and juvenile matters. The Court provides forms to assist pro se petitions for many civil  actions, such as divorce and guardianships and issues marriage licenses. To learn more about the court, please visit www.potawatomi.org/government/judicial or call 405-878-4244.