Proposed Court Rule in Michigan to Waive Pro Hac Fees and Other Limits for Out of State Tribal ICWA Attorneys

Written by: Kathryn Fort

Primary Source : Turtle Talk, November 3, 2016


In ICWA cases, the tribe has a right of intervention in whatever state court is hearing the case of the tribal child. While it is true that the “tribal representative” does not have to be attorneys, when they are attorneys, there may be concerns about practicing without finding local counsel or using the local “pro hac” rule. Michigan has proposed a court rule that would waive those requirements for tribal attorneys representing the tribe in a state court where the attorney is not barred. This proposed rule is in direct response a number of requests from tribal ICWA attorneys nationwide. We are hopeful other states will consider a similar rule (though in Nebraska this is right is guaranteed by statute, which is another great fix). This rule was proposed by the Michigan Tribal-State Judicial Forum.

Also, if you are an out of state attorney who would benefit from this proposed Rule (or in state) please send in comments by March 1.

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Kathryn Fort
Kathryn (Kate) E. Fort is the Staff Attorney and Adjunct Professor for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law. She joined the Center in 2005 as the Indigenous Law Fellow. In her role with the Center, she co-teaches an experiential learning class, researches and writes on behalf of Center clients and on topics in federal Indian law and manages administrative aspects of the Center. Ms. Fort has written articles on laches and land claims and the Indian Child Welfare Act. Ms. Fort graduated magna cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law with the Certificate in Indigenous Law, and is licensed to practice law in Michigan. Prior to law school, Ms. Fort worked for Congresswoman Lois Capps' 1998 congressional campaign, the Democratic National Committee during the 2000 Presidential race, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. She received her B.A. in History with honors from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.