Michael Geraghty, the Anchorage attorney appointed as the state’s next Attorney General, says “Tribal Courts are here to stay,” – saying it’s the law of the land and pointing to authority most recently recognized by the state Supreme Court in a Child Welfare case. However, he says the courts are primarily focused in very limited areas of child custody and domestic relations.
He says he will keep an open mind about expanding their scope. Although he has issues with giving tribes authority to handle criminal cases, the told the Senate Judiciary Committee that any decisions will consider whether the proceedings protect individuals’ rights and recognize due process.
I’m going to keep an open mind about it. Where we don’t have a presence and people are trying to do the right thing in their communities, I think we have to respect that. We also have to respect their rights as citizens of the state and the due process rights that they’re afforded. If tribes are interested in finding a way to somehow strike a balance where both goals can be met, I want to keep an open mind about it.
The Judiciary committee was questioning Geraghty in preparation for a vote to confirm his appointment. That vote will come in a joint session before the end of this year’s session.