Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $577,516)
Abstract: Enhancing the Catawba Nation Court
The Catawba Indian Nation is a federally recognized tribe located in York County, South Carolina. In 2021 the Nation completed a needs assessment in the development of a Tribal Justice Strategic plan. That assessment revealed that citizens of the Nation desperately need a Tribal Police Department, along with a holistic Tribal court system with supportive services. At present, the Nation has only one court program, a Healing to Wellness Court, established in 2019. Though this program serves some of the most at-risk citizens of the Nation, it cannot serve every judicial need for the Tribe. Catawbas need a judicial branch that can handle contract disputes, torts, and even the criminal cases generated by the Tribe’s newly established public safety division.
The Catawba Nation’s vision is to create a foundation for the tribal justice division, starting with a court of general jurisdiction. This court will include two dockets, a civil docket to address disputes between parties, and a joint-jurisdiction docket. The joint-jurisdiction docket solves many of the jurisdictional concerns associated with the creation of a police department, and ensures that prosecutors are not limited to charging only tribal members.
The first year of the grant will be spent planning the court and developing a comprehensive criminal code. The Director of Justice services will empanel a committee comprised of stakeholders and citizens to oversee the development of the code and court. She will work with the York County Magistrate and other partner agencies to create and revise existing MOUs and MOAs to assist with this project.
In year two, the Nation will hire the necessary staff and finalize the necessary deliverables to operate the Court. The Director will work closely with a judge and court clerk hired under this grant to complete policies and procedures, including case management policies. In years two and three, the Nation will operate this court. The Director will conduct several community and participant surveys to gather data about the effectiveness of this court. Additionally, the department will work closely with community partner agencies, and Catawba Community services to do extensive outreach for this program.