Colville Tribal Court of Appeals Arguments at Gonzaga Law on Jan. 25


Oral Arguments in Barbieri Courtroom Open to Public

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Colville Tribal Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at Gonzaga University School of Law’s Barbieri Courtroom at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 25. The hearing, which is open to the public, is part of Gonzaga Law School’s Centennial celebration. The panel will ask if the lower tribal court abused the power of discretion in blocking further prosecution of a dismissed case. The Law School is located at 721 N. Cincinnati St.

All three of the justices presiding in this case are Gonzaga Law School alumni.

“The chance to see the highest court of the Confederated Colville Tribes in action is a unique one for both our students and the community,” said Gonzaga Law School Dean Jane Korn. “All of our students learn about the state and federal courts, but this is an incredible opportunity for them to see a tribal court of appeals in action and to learn from that experience.” The Barbieri Courtroom displays the bronze seals of nine regional tribes. The seals were installed in 2004 to honor Gonzaga’s relationships with the sovereign Native American tribes, each with its own legal and judicial system.

The case being heard, Colville Confederated Tribes v. G. Stensgar / C. Signor (case No. AP12-007/008), addresses an issue of the discretionary power of a judge when a complaint is not filed within 72 hours of arrest.

In two separate cases, defendants were arrested, cited, and appeared in court as they promised when posting bail. The prosecutor, who did not receive documents from the jail, was not prepared to proceed. The judge dismissed the case “with prejudice,” which means the prosecutor would not be allowed to prosecute the defendants for those crimes at a later date. The prosecutor’s office appealed the decision, arguing the decision, which blocks the cases from further prosecution, was an abuse of the court’s discretionary power.

The Colville Tribal Court of Appeals has been in existence for more than 50 years. In 1995, the court became a constitutionally separate branch of the Colville Tribal government and is the highest court for issues of Colville Tribal law. The court hears between 15 and 25 appeals from the lower courts each year.

The Court of Appeals last visited Gonzaga Law School in February of 2009 for an “en banc” panel (a case heard in front of all justices of the court) in a criminal case.

This year marks Gonzaga Law School’s Centennial and Gonzaga University’s 125th anniversary. Many events are planned throughout the year to mark the anniversaries. More information can be found at

For more information, please contact Andrea Parrish, digital media specialist at Gonzaga Law School at (509) 313-3771 or via e-mail [] or Jane Smith, Administrator and Law Clerk of the Court, at (509) 634-2507 or via email []

This entry was posted in Announcements, Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, News, tribal courts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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