A new Violence Against Women Federal and Tribal Prosecution Task Force being formed this year is being directed to produce a trial practice manual on the federal prosecution of violence against women offenses in Indian Country.
Attorney General Eric Holder and United States Attorney for the District of Montana, Michael W. Cotter, announced the formation and inaugural meeting of the task force this week.
Two Montana lawyers, Tribal Prosecutor and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane S. Cabrera, Crow Tribe and District of Montana and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Hurd, District of Montana, will serve on the task force.
The manual will be produced after a year. In the short term, the Task Force will explore current issues raised by professionals in the field, and recommend “best practices” in prosecution strategies involving domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, a DOJ news release said.
“We know too well that tribal communities face unique law enforcement challenges and are struggling to reverse unacceptable rates of violence against women and children,” said Attorney General Holder. “The creation of the Violence Against Women Tribal Prosecution Task Force has been a priority for me since my visit with tribal leaders last year, and I believe it is a critical step in our work to improve public safety and strengthen coordination and collaboration concerning prosecution strategies with tribal communities.”
United States Attorney Deborah Gilg of the District of Nebraska, six Assistant United States Attorneys working in Indian Country, and six representatives from tribal governments comprise the Task Force. They include:U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg, District of Nebraska, Chairperson; Assistant U.S. Attorney Glynette R. Carson McNabb, District of New Mexico; Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg S. Peterman, District of South Dakota; Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Roe, Western District of Washington; Assistant U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins, District of Utah;DOJ’s National Indian Country Training Coordinator Leslie A. Hagen;Deputy Attorney General M. Brent Leonhard, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (OR);Chief Judge Theresa M. Pouley, Tulalip Tribal Court (WA);Chief Prosecutor Sheri Freemont, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian (AZ); Tribal Attorney Michelle Rivard Parks, Spirit Lake Tribe (ND); and Staff Attorney Joshua Breedlove, Mississippi Choctow (MS).
The task force also includes a group of advisors and liaisons from the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women, health care professionals and law enforcement officials.
Violence against American Indian women occurs at epidemic rates. In 2005, Congress found that one in three American Indian women are raped during their lifetimes, and American Indian women are nearly three times more likely to be battered in their lifetimes than Caucasian women.
“It is truly an honor to have two attorneys from the District of Montana on the Attorney General’s Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hurd is well known for her ardent advocacy and protection of victims of violence in Indian Country – especially women and children. Tribal Prosecutor Cabrera not only protects the interest of victims as a tribal prosecutor for the Crow Tribe, she also serves as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and prosecutes felonies as part of the District of Montana’s Indian Country Crime Unit. The inclusion of both women on the Attorney General’s Task Force is a commendation not only of their abilities but of their commitment to women and children in Indian Country.” U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter, District of Montana.