NorCal attorney named to federal Tribal Law and Order Commission

Northern California attorney Tom Gede has been named by incoming House Speaker John Boehner to serve on the new federal Tribal Law and Order Commission.

Gede is a principal at the Bingham Consulting Group and of counsel to Bingham McCutchen LLP, and splits time between offices in San Francisco and Sacramento. He’s also a former deputy state district attorney and served as an advisor to two past state attorneys general, Dan Lungren and Bill Lockyer.

Gede has worked extensively on a variety of tribal and gambling issues, and recently co-authored a paper on Internet Gambling for the journal of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.

The commission is a nine-member panel that was created by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. President Barack Obama signed the bill in July with the goal of improving public safety on Indian lands.

One of the main goals of the act is to lower high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault on reservations. According to figures from the U.S. Department of Justice, one in three Native women is raped during her lifetime. The bill also has portions which aim to lower high rates of alcohol and drug abuse. The Commission will hold several meetings around the country in coming months to help determine how to best implement the Tribal Law and Order Act.

“The commission’s charter is to provide a comprehensive study of law enforcement and criminal justice in tribal communities, covering jurisdictional issues, jail and prison, rehabilitation of offenders, reducing recidivism, protecting victims and all the tools and resources needed to increase effectiveness of the criminal justice system in those communities,” Gede explained.

Gede also has served as a member of the Capitol Weekly Advisory Board for nearly five years.

The law will also have particular ramifications for California and other states that operate under a statute known as Public Law 280. This 1953 law turned most federal law enforcement powers on Indian land over to five states: California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wisconsin, and it was also applied to Alaska when it joined the union in 1959. Several other states also operate under Public Law 280 for particular tribal reservations.

Under the latest act, federal law enforcement agencies will gain new powers on tribal lands within these states. The idea is to give people who have not gotten redress from tribal, local or state law enforcement another place to turn.

Gede is known as an expert of Public Law 280, and worked on an unsuccessful legislative effort a decade ago to standardize the rules for tribal police forces in California.

Boehner chose Gede for the one appointee he has on the commission. The job is a two-year appointment with no pay, and does not require U.S. Senate approval.

The appointments were made near the end of December, under the lame-duck Congress. Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, got to appoint two slots, while Boehner made his appointment as House Minority Leader.

The pair will switch jobs next week due to the changeover of the House from Democratic to Republican control. Pelosi tapped a pair of Dakotas House members who lost in November’s GOP landslide election: Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, also had two choices, naming National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) president Jefferson Keel and former Colorado U.S. Attorney Troy Eid. Assistant Wyoming Attorney General Affie Ellis was named by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

The other three slots will be named by Obama, who has yet to announce his choices.

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