Holcomb signs bill recognizing Pokagon tribal courts

Indiana courts will soon be required to recognize court orders from the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill extending full faith and credit to the tribal courts.

Holcomb last week signed House Enrolled Act 1441, creating Public Law 201. The legislation creates reciprocity between state and tribal courts so that both tribunals are required to recognize orders from the other.

Authored by Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, the concept of PL 201 was introduced during the 2020 session of the Indiana General Assembly. The issue was sent to the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary, which endorsed the legislation last fall.

“It was an obvious thing for a lawyer to do,” DeLaney, of DeLaney & DeLaney LLC, previous told Indiana Lawyer. Given the increased presence of the Pokagon Band in the Hoosier State via the Four Winds Casino in South Bend, the lawmaker said extending full faith and credit to the Pokagon tribal courts was a natural next step and a sign of “mutuality and respect.”

DeLaney’s bill received unanimous support in the Legislature during the 2021 session. The Pokagon Band testified in its favor, with Pokagaon Band Prosecutor Annette Nickel saying similar legislation is already in effect in dozens of states.

“It’s really just the way we do business,” Nickel told IL. “It’s that respect of government to government.”

PL 201 will take effect July 1.

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