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Frequently Asked Questions

DO YOU NEED A LAWYER TO APPEAR IN THE CFR COURT? 

No. It is advisable to get assistance of an attorney. Defendants in criminal or child welfare cases (involving the termination of parental rights), who cannot afford an attorney may apply to the court to have the public defender appointed to assist in their defense. In other matters, parties are encouraged to hire an attorney who is familiar with the laws and procedures with the CFR Court. The judges and court clerks cannot help parties present cases or act as advocates. Ethical codes do not permit court clerks, judges or other court personnel to assist parties in preparing filings. The Office of the Court Clerk does provide forms and instruction.

CAN ONE APPEAL A CFR COURT DECISION? 

Yes. Parties have a right to appeal their cases to the Court of Indian Appeals, if they believe that one of the judges of the CFR Court has committed an error or for the relief, such as a writ of habeas corpus, as provided for in the court rules. A notice of appeal must be filed within 15 days after entry of judgment or an order issued by Court of Indian Offenses. Parities must submit a filing fee, insure that the records are transferred to the appeals court within the required time period after the record has been certified and file the necessary petition in error and briefs by the deadlines set forth in the court rules. Failure to abide by the deadlines may result in dismissal of the appeal. Unlike the trial, hearings are held before the appellate court unless the judges agree to a hearing after a party requests one. The decisions are made primarily by reviewing the written briefs and court record of the trial court. The Court of Indian Appeals consists of three judges who review the action of the trial court to determine if the decision made should be upheld or overturned. Generally, a party is limited to discuss issues and evidence presented to the trial court, and cannot submit additional evidence or legal arguments on appeal. Copies of all pleadings and case authority must be mailed to each judge, and filed with the court for proper consideration. If a party wishes to expedite a decision, the party should demonstrate why the court should hear the matter in an expedited manner.

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