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LCO College Offers New Program to Provide Lay Advocates to Tribal Court

By Joe Morey News Editor


A new certificate program is being offered at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College that aims to add something new to the tribal court that will benefit tribal members. The Tribal Court Lay Advocate Certificate will train persons to help defend people who come before the court.


According to the LCO College’s website, the “The Tribal Court Lay Advocate Certificate will equip students with the necessary skills to provide diligent and appropriate representation to clients. The program will help the learner to evaluate evidence in cases, develop legal and investigational strategies for strengthening case presentation, construct legal arguments for presentation in court, describe the trial process and its importance, interpret tribal laws and codes, and address ethical considerations.”


LCO Tribal Court Chief Judge James Schlender Jr said the tribe’s court system has a prosecutor who works on behalf of the tribe, but there is nothing in place to provide public defenders for persons who become defendants in the court.


“The Lay Advocates will be able to help represent our people when they come into the court,” Schlender said. “They’ve never had that opportunity. The Public Defender’s office doesn’t provide attorneys to our court system and there isn’t any money available to get an attorney put in place.”


The college’s website states a Tribal Court Lay Advocate should enjoy helping people, desire improved quality of justice in Wisconsin tribal courts, and have an interest in law.


The Lay Advocates won’t be practicing attorneys but they will be recognized by the tribal court system to provide assistance in defending persons who come before the court for prosecution or other civil matters.


After completing the Tribal Court Lay Advocate certificate, students will be able to: Apply knowledge of applicable tribal, state and federal laws, administrative procedures, orders, policies and case law; Conduct legal research and maintain evidentiary procedures; Apply successful interviewing skills; Follow and maintain legal process, rules of evidence and procedure; Draft motions briefs and other legal documents in support of their client’s position.


The college’s website also states that graduates of the Tribal Court Lay Advocate Certificate will be able to work as a lay advocate in tribal court and as support staff in a tribal court system.