The Tribal Appellate Court Clinic students provide assistance to justices of the highest court of the Hualapai tribe in Arizona, while learning skills useful in clerking for any appellate judge in federal, state, or tribal systems. Almost every case that a student will work on will involve important questions of first impression with respect to constitutional issues (separations of powers, checks and balances, etc.), criminal justice and defendants' and victims' rights in both substance and procedure, the duties and obligations of government with respect to family matters and commercial activities, the establishment of property law schemes, among many others. Students will do all their coursework and assigned casework at UCLA with site visits (at Law School expense) to the respective tribal court to attend oral arguments and to participate in deliberations. Given the unique needs and docketing of tribal appellate courts, all the class meetings will be structured into a four day workshop over two weekends, for which attendance is mandatory.  After that, students will meet with their assigned tribal judge by video or teleconference to discuss the research and work on assigned cases on a regular basis. 

Kara Borden teaches the Tribal Appellate Court Clinic.

​​For more information about the clinic, unit credit, enrollment and any prerequisites click HERE.

Student Testimonial

Participating in the Tribal Appellate Court Clinic was one of the most enriching experiences of my UCLA legal education.  I worked directly with the tribal appellate court justices on real criminal and civil cases.  Because the tribal courts that UCLA works with are relatively new, most cases present issues of first impression.  This means that the student clerks get to play a major role in shaping the tribal jurisprudence.  For example, I was able to help formulate the prevailing interpretation of the double jeopardy clause of the Hualapai Constitution.  The trip to the reservation is always a highlight of the class, and it's a great opportunity to meet the members of the tribal communities that the clinic serves, to watch the oral argument, and to confer with the justices about how the case should be decided. 

                                                                                                                                                                   Todd Borden, '09