The tribal council of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation endorsed Monday a proposal to allow district courts to extend "faith and credit" to orders of tribal courts under a set of rules adopted by the Kansas Supreme Court.
Joseph Rupnick, chairman of the Prairie Band tribal council, said passage of House Bill 2039 would provide recognition of tribal court proceedings in Kansas.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to provide input regarding this important legislation," Rupnick said.
The House Judiciary Committee bill was developed by the Kansas Judicial Council based on a recommendation of a tribal state judicial forum.
The full faith and credit clause in the U.S. Constitution requires all states respect the acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state, but the U.S. Supreme Court has held it doesn't apply to judgments of tribal courts. Other states have adopted statutes recognizing tribal judgments.
"There are circumstances in which a Kansas district court has refused to recognize tribal judgments and, due to tribal codes requiring reciprocity, the tribal court is then unable to recognize judgments from that district court," said Judge James Patton, a representative of the Kansas Judicial Council.
He said a law mandating reciprocity among tribal and state courts will provide certainty to litigants that judgments can be enforced, Patton said.
Joseph Molina, of the Kansas Bar Association, said the approach encompassed in the House bill had been tested by neighboring states and "found to be a productive way to recognize judgments by both parties."