Lawrence Baca Wins FBA’s Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award

Congratulations, Lawrence on this well-deserved honor!!

Lawrence Baca’s Bio

Lawrence Baca is a Pawnee Indian and at the time of his retirement was Deputy Director of the Office of Tribal Justice, United States Department of Justice. Formerly a Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division, he was previously assigned to the Educational Opportunities Litigation Section for twelve years, the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section for eight years, the General Litigation Section for two years and the Office of Indian Rights for four years. The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights said of Baca that he’d filed more cases on behalf of American Indians in his career than any other attorney in the history of the Civil Rights Division. His civil rights work on behalf of American Indians in the areas of Credit, Voting Rights and Education was groundbreaking.

A 1976 graduate of Harvard Law School, Baca was one of the first American Indians to graduate from Harvard. He was the first American Indian ever hired through the Department of Justice’s Honor Law Program and also the first Indian ever promoted up through the ranks to Senior Trial Attorney status at the Department. At the time of his retirement Baca had served more years with the Department of Justice than any other American Indian lawyer.

In 1973, Baca received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in “American Indian History and Culture” from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he also taught two courses on Indian issues during his senior year. In 1974, while attending law school, he was a Harvard Teaching Fellow at Harvard University and, in 1976, he taught a course entitled “Perspectives On The Historical Development of American Indian Policy and Law” at the Harvard University Extension School. In 1988, Mr. Baca was presented with a Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an Adjunct Professorial Lecturer teaching Federal Indian Law at American University Washington College of Law in 2004 and 2005 and he founded the course in Federal Indian Law at the Howard University School of Law in 2007 where he was an Adjunct Professor of Law.

As a member of the American Bar Association, Mr. Baca was Chairman of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession from 2002-2005. Previously he has worked with the Younger Lawyers Division, the Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities, the Committee on Minorities in the Profession and the Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice. Baca has been a Program Coordinator of the Committee on Problems of American Indians and has given numerous lectures on the role of American Indian Lawyers as minority members of the majority bar. He also lectures frequently on the role of race in society, civil rights law and federal Indian law.

He is a past President of the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) and has served on its board of directors, in various capacities, for twenty-six of the past thirty-five years. He has served as President of NNABA three times.

Mr. Baca is a member of the Federal Bar Association (FBA). In 2009-10 he served as national President. He was the first American Indian ever elected to be national president of a non-minority bar association. He previously served for 20 years as Chairman of the Indian Law Section which he created. The Indian Law Section sponsors the largest annual federal Indian law conference in America. Under Mr. Baca’s leadership, the program tripled in attendance during his chairmanship of the Indian Law Section.

Mr. Baca is a nationally recognized authority on federal Indian law and race and is a frequent lecturer at colleges and law schools.

A noted amateur photographer his work has appeared on the cover of the Federal Bar Association magazine, “The Federal Lawyer,” nineteen times. The April 2005 edition contained a retrospective of his cover photos.

More information on the award is below:

The Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award

Named after the renowned federal district judge from Dallas, Texas, the Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award was created to honor that man or woman who promotes the advancement of civil and human rights amongst us, and who exemplifies Judge Hughes’ spirit and legacy of devoted service and leadership in the cause of equality. Judge Hughes was a pioneer in the fight for civil rights, due process, equal protection, and the rights of women.

CRITERIA AND PROCESS: The Award will be presented each year at the President’s Installation Banquet to an attorney or judge whose career achievements have made a difference in advancing the causes that were important to Judge Hughes. Such work may include either ground-breaking achievement or a body of sustained and dedicated work in the area of civil rights, due process, and equal protection. The nominee should have at least ten years of practice. The nominee must either be a member in good standing of a state bar association or retired. The nominee should demonstrate sustained and verifiable excellence in the legal profession, and be of good character.

Posted in Announcements, Author: Ann Tweedy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Job Announcements

Job vacancies are posted on Friday. Some announcements might still appear throughout the week. If you would like your Indian law job posted on Turtle Talk, please email

Spokane Tribe

Conflict Public Defender, Wellpinit, WA. Responsible for representing defendants in criminal prosecutions in the Spokane Tribal Court. This position is open continuous. Applications can be downloaded at

Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP

2018 Summer Clerkships and Fellowships. A boutique law firm in San Francisco, CA specializing in government, land use, renewable energy, and environmental law. We have a growing federal Indian law practice, focusing on cultural resource protection, government-to-government consultation, tribal jurisdiction, land use, and renewable energy. Summer clerkships are open to students who will have completed their 2L year. The three-year fellowship is open to recent law school graduates. Applications accepted on a rolling basis, with a firm deadline of Labor Day for both programs.

Tulalip Tribes

Attorney. Closes July 28, 2017.

Hualapai Tribe

Public Defender. Closes August 14, 2017.

Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska

Tribal Child Support Unit Attorney, Juneau, AK. This position’s duties and responsibilities include representing the Tlingit and Haida Tribal Child Support Unit (TCSU) in Tribal and State courts, drafting legal documents for child support and paternity cases, providing legal guidance to the TCSU agency, researching legal issues, interpreting statutes, rules and regulations relevant to child support and paternity. Salary range $68,872 – $87,825 per year.  Position open until 4 pm, August 18, 2017.  Tlingit & Haida accepts electronic applications only. For questions contact Human Resources: or Telephone 907-463-7707 or 463-7106.

Mescalero Apache Tribe

Chief Judge. This position is open until filled.

Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians

Court Clerk, Temecula, CA.

Previous Friday Jobs Announcement: 7/14/2017

Posted in Author: Sarah Donnelly, jobs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge Tim Connors Honored as NCJFCJ Innovator of the Year

Full press release impact_innovation-pr edit

From the press release:

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) announced two honorees of the 3rd annual Justice Innovation Awards recognizing the national Innovator of the Year and the Impact of the Year recipients: the Honorable Timothy Connors of the 22nd Circuit Court in Washtenaw County, Mich. and the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C. The honorees were recognized at the NCJFCJ’s 80th Annual Conference highlighting informative presentations on current and cutting edge topics that inspired, provoked and precipitated discussions about issues facing the juvenile and family court system.

The Innovator of the Year Award honors an active, in-good-standing NCJFCJ member who has inspired, sponsored, promoted or led an innovation or accomplishment of national significance in juvenile justice, child abuse and neglect, family law and/or domestic violence. The Impact of the Year Award recognizes, from the Annual Conference-host state (Washington, D.C.), an individual, state/local court, law firm, advocacy group or service provider who has been instrumental in leading or implementing significant improvements or innovations which advance the mission of the NCJFCJ.

“It is our privilege to recognize the outstanding work of both Judge Connors and the team at the Latin American Youth Center,” said Judge Anthony (Tony) Capizzi, NCJFCJ president. “We honor their tireless commitment to improving the lives of children and families, especially those in our justice system. We hope that we can continue to raise awareness of the core issues that affect our nation’s families.”

Judge Connors serves as co-chair of the Michigan Tribal-State-Federal Forum, instrumental in drafting the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act. In 2013, he was awarded a grant by the Michigan Supreme Court to determine whether tribal peacemaking values and practices could be implemented in a state court system. As presiding judge of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court, he has fostered the healing of important relationships among litigants in child welfare, family and probate cases by incorporating Native American peacemaking principles and philosophies in conflict resolution.

“I am forever grateful to the Michigan Supreme Court, the University of Michigan Law School, and now the NCJFCJ for opening this path of Peacemaking and restorative justice in state court systems,” said Judge Connors. “This path is the creation of the collaborative effort of the National American Indian Court Judges Association, the Native American Rights Fund Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative and the Michigan Tribal State Federal Forum to find common ground. This common ground greatly benefits our youth, our families and our communities. I hope all of our states will choose to walk this path together.”

“This is a great national honor that Judge Connors has received, and it is well deserved,” said Bridget M. McCormack, Michigan Supreme Court. “For many years, Judge Connors has shown a remarkable dedication to implementing tribal and community court peacemaking principles to resolve cases. In fact, his court was the first in Michigan to adopt the use of these principles, and his success in this area has prompted other states to take notice. His passion for applying justice in collaborative and innovative ways is nothing short of inspiring.”

“Judge Connors honors and respects the traditions of the tribes and tribal justice systems that provided the foundational knowledge and peacemaking principles for his court,” said Nikki Borchardt Campbell, Executive Director, National American Indian Court Judges Association. “We believe these restorative principles can be beneficial to participants when applied correctly and in the exact manner that Judge Connors has applied them in his court. His court and his approach are shining examples. We are proud of his work and his contribution to both state and tribal courts.”

Congratulations Judge Connors

Judge Timothy Connors

Posted in Announcements, Author: Victoria Sweet, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still Fighting Over Cobell/Pigford Attorney Fees: D.C. Court of Appeals Decides Boyd v. Kilpatrick Townsend

Here is the opinion,

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Indian Law Scholarship

Carla Fredericks has published “Operationalizing Free, Prior, and Informed Consent” in the Albany Law Review.

The Oklahoma Law Review has published a student paper, “Closing Time: Removing the State of Oklahoma from Alcohol Regulation in Indian Country.”

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Scholarship | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tenth Circuit Affirms Major Crimes Act Murder Conviction

Here is the opinion in United States v. Magnan.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Criminal, Research | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

NYTs: “Panel: Dakota Access-Style Protests Could Become Commonplace”


Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, cultural resources, Environmental, News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Federal Court Refuses to Enjoin Standing Rock Election

Here are the materials in Fool Bear v. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (D.N.D.):

1 Complaint

3 Motion for PI

5 DCT Order Denying TRO

6 Motion for Reconsideration

8 DCT Order Denying Reconsideration

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research, tribal election | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tenth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Challenge to San Ildefonso Pueblo Land Rights

Here is the unpublished opinion in Northern New Mexicans Protecting Land Water and Rights v. United States.

Briefs here.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research, sovereign immunity | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Ninth Circuit Allows Bishop Paiute Law Enforcement Case to Proceed

Here is the opinion in Bishop Paiute Tribe v. Inyo County.

An excerpt:

The Bishop Paiute Tribe (the “Tribe”) seeks a declaration that they have the right to “investigate violations of tribal, state, and federal law, detain, and transport or deliver a non-Indian violator [encountered on the reservation] to the proper authorities.” Before reaching this issue, the district court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, concluding that the case presents no actual case or controversy. On appeal, we are also asked to assess whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Because questions of federal common law can serve as the basis of federal subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and because this case presents a definite and concrete dispute that is ripe and not moot, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Briefs and lower court materials here.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research | Tagged , | Leave a comment