Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Santa Rosa Rancheria in California

The San Joaquin Yokut tribe is establishing a new tribal court system and setting up its own police force.

The Tachi Yokuts of the Santa Rosa Rancheria in Lemoore expect to have the court and police force operating by this summer, said Eugene Rosette, tribal justice court and law administrator. The court will have a tribal judge, court recorder and clerk. Misdemeanor cases will be heard, including property thefts, domestic violence and public intoxication. The court also will issue marriage licenses and settle custody disputes. Any felony cases will be turned over to the federal court for prosecution. A police force of eight officers also will be formed as part of the tribal court system. The Kings County Sheriff’s Department and the Kings County Superior Court currently have jurisdiction over the area. Most tribes have not had the money to operate such a system, but the 1994 federal crime bill authorized funding for tribes that wanted to set up their own court system. “This is a sovereignty issue for the nation. They’ll be able to police themselves and handle everything in a more traditional and cultural manner,” said Matthew Parish, chief of tribal security.