Escondido, CA – March 22, 2016: California has the largest Native American population in the country, with over 100 sovereign Indian Nations within its borders. With over twenty active Tribal Courts, California is the home to numerous innovative Tribal Court systems that seek to provide transparent, efficient and effective justice to tribal members throughout the state.  Yet, many of these Tribal Courts face common challenges, ranging from lack of funding and resources to problems with state recognition of their orders. California Indian Legal Services (CILS), with the encouragement of a number of California Tribal Court judges, has formed the California Tribal Court Judges’ Association (CTCJA) to provide a forum for Tribal Court professionals to exchange ideas, address common opportunities, promote the independence and recognition of Tribal Courts, and project a unified voice on state and federal actions that impact tribal jurisdiction.

With assistance and support from CILS, the CTCJA held its first meeting on November 23, 2015.  Since that meeting, CTCJA has moved forward with adopting By-Laws and electing the following Officers:

Chairperson, Honorable Christine Williams, Chief Judge, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians; and Yurok Tribal Member;

Vice-Chairperson, Honorable Joseph Wiseman, Chief Judge, Northern California Intertribal Court System; and

Secretary, Honorable Mark Radoff, Chief Judge Chemehuevi Indian Tribe

One overarching goal of the CTCJA is to bring greater awareness to state and federal governments of the unique legal needs of the tribal communities that Tribal Courts serve.  The CTCJA looks forward to building stronger and more vibrant Tribal Courts in California and offering new judicial programs and services to their communities.

For more information on the CTCJA please contact Judge Christine Williams at (530) 698-1449 or at and Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director at 760-746-8941 or at

About CILS:

California Indian Legal Services is one of the oldest non-profit law firms in the country and largest in California that is devoted exclusively to the causes of Native American rights.  CILS maintains four offices statewide and has been in operation for 48 years. CILS represents California Tribes, tribal organizations, and low-income individuals on matters of Indian law. For more information, please visit


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