The Cowlitz Tribal Court hears civil and criminal matters that fall within the court’s jurisdiction and is staffed by a Tribal Judge and a Tribal Court Administrator. Court is typically held the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, unless a holiday, but the Court retains the discretion to convene on alternative or additional days depending on the circumstances
Services & Programs:
- Cowlitz Tribal Court is a court of limited jurisdiction, the court can only hear certain types of cases; legal actions that are brought under a Tribal Code or ordinance that has been expressly conferred jurisdiction on the Tribal Court.
- Tribal Court maintains a docket the second and fourth Wednesday of the month excluding holidays. Cases heard on docket currently consist of civil infraction matters that have occurred on the reservation. Matters such as traffic violations, trespassing orders and non-moving violations are issued through out Public Safety Department and forwarded to the tribal Court for processing.
- The court is prohibited from hearing two types of cases. First the Tribal Court lacks jurisdiction over a matter in which the Tribe has asserted sovereign immunity, or a Tribal Court has asserted immunity. Secondly, the Tribe lacks jurisdiction in actions that are subject to arbitration or mediation under the terms of a duly authorized contract. For example, the Tribal court cannot hear a dispute arising out of a government-to-government agreement subject to mediation or arbitration.
- The court cannot offer legal advice or refer any attorney or council to any party of the court case or potential court case, to do so would show bias and prejudice to the parties. Therefore, it is often difficult to answer questions about filings and/or what steps need to be taken in a particular case.