Skip to main content

TJSL Students Visit the Intertribal Court of Southern California

March 12, 2014

TJSL Students Visit the Intertribal Court of Southern California
TJSL Students Visit the Intertribal Court of Southern California

Members of TJSL’s Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) got a rare opportunity to visit the Intertribal Court of Southern California (ICSC) located on the Rincon Indian Reservation in Valley Center, California on February 26, 2014.

Though ICSC is located in Valley Center, California, tribal judges often travel between member tribes to preside over cases using tribal laws, ordinances, customs, and historical precedence. The ICSC is an independent judiciary within Indian Country to preserve the integrity, autonomy and self-governance of the tribes it serves. The Tribal Judicial Council of Southern California oversees the administration of the Court under the Intertribal Governing Agreement between the following member tribes: The Jamul Indian Village, Los Coyotes Band of Mission Indians, La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nations, Mesa Grande Band of Misison Indians, Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, San Pasqual Band of Indians, and the Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueño Indians.

“Visiting the Intertribal Court brought tribal sovereignty to life, said NALSA President Monique Rodriguez (3L). “It was amazing to see Indian law working at its best and the respect & empowerment the Indian community has in the system they created.”

During their visit, students had the opportunity to view appellate oral arguments and meet privately with the Hon. Anthony Brandenburg ’79 and Hon. John Madigan ’91. “It was absolutely fascinating to watch oral arguments before an Appellate Court inside Indian Country,” said NALSA’s Vice-President Samantha Morales (3L). “As a young scholar in the field, I found it extremely valuable and inspiring to speak one on one with Chief Judge Brandenburg and Judge Madigan.”

“The most exciting part of the trip was being able to chat with TJSL alumni Judge Madigan and Judge Brandenburg about current issues pertaining to Native American law,” said Kawika Kaulukukui (1L). “What stood out was when Judge Brandenburg talked about how the tribal court decisions are based on both traditional Native American customs and modern laws.”

“I found the sensitivity of the judges to be refreshing,” said Ruby Faagau (1L). The judges emphasized the importance of empathy and respect in dealing with the Native members of the various tribes. The court itself provides a forum for the original inhabitants of this land – who are marginalized today – to be heard and seen.”

“NALSA is very excited that we were invited to the court and we hope to maintain a connection,” said Rodriguez.

With the re-chartering of NALSA last year, TJSL is now the only law school in San Diego to have an active NALSA chapter that is a member of the National NALSA. TJSL is also the only law school in San Diego to offer a course on American Indian Law taught by Professor Bryan H. Wildenthal, who is widely published in the field.

For more information about future NALSA events email: