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Public Statements

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LEE. Madam President, today I would like to address a provision of the Violence Against Women Act, S. 47, that is of great concern. Title IX of VAWA provides tribal courts with special jurisdiction over non-Indians who are charged with crimes of domestic violence. While title IX requires tribal courts availing themselves of this special jurisdiction to provide the non-Indian defendant ``all other rights whose protection is necessary under the Constitution,'' I am concerned that such proceedings have the potential to deprive U.S. citizens of crucial due process rights, especially without further connection to the existing Federal court system.

First, title IX currently requires a defendant to be tried by an impartial jury drawn from sources that ``reflect a fair cross section of the community.'' We are always concerned that the population from which a jury is drawn not result in bias against a defendant who may not be part of the same race, culture, or religion as the jurors. While the population of many Indian lands consists of a wide variety of both Indians and non-Indians, many parts of Indian country are populated by Indians who have close ties to one another but limited interaction with non-Indians. I believe we must seek to minimize the potential for bias against non-Indian defendants under such circumstances.

Second, in State and Federal courts, the defendant has several options with which to challenge the validity of the court's rulings. Under the special jurisdiction laid out in title IX, the defendant lacks both the ability to remove his case to Federal court when appropriate and the ability to appeal a decision to a Federal appeals court. While many tribal courts have proven to be as consistent and fair as traditional courts, the possibility of removal and appeal is key to the oversight that U.S. citizens rightfully expect in criminal proceedings.

For these reasons I respectfully urge my colleagues to oppose S. 47.Mr. LEE. Madam President, today I would like to address a provision of the Violence Against Women Act, S. 47, that is of great concern. Title IX of VAWA provides tribal courts with special jurisdiction over non-Indians who are charged with crimes of domestic violence. While title IX requires tribal courts availing themselves of this special jurisdiction to provide the non-Indian defendant ``all other rights whose protection is necessary under the Constitution,'' I am concerned that such proceedings have the potential to deprive U.S. citizens of crucial due process rights, especially without further connection to the existing Federal court system.

First, title IX currently requires a defendant to be tried by an impartial jury drawn from sources that ``reflect a fair cross section of the community.'' We are always concerned that the population from which a jury is drawn not result in bias against a defendant who may not be part of the same race, culture, or religion as the jurors. While the population of many Indian lands consists of a wide variety of both Indians and non-Indians, many parts of Indian country are populated by Indians who have close ties to one another but limited interaction with non-Indians. I believe we must seek to minimize the potential for bias against non-Indian defendants under such circumstances.

Second, in State and Federal courts, the defendant has several options with which to challenge the validity of the court's rulings. Under the special jurisdiction laid out in title IX, the defendant lacks both the ability to remove his case to Federal court when appropriate and the ability to appeal a decision to a Federal appeals court. While many tribal courts have proven to be as consistent and fair as traditional courts, the possibility of removal and appeal is key to the oversight that U.S. citizens rightfully expect in criminal proceedings.

For these reasons I respectfully urge my colleagues to oppose S. 47.

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