Alexander Pearl to Present at a Symposium Focused on Indian Country

FIU Law Professor M. Alexander Pearl will present at the Heeding Phil Frickey’s Call: The Issues in Indian Country Symposium to be held on Sept. 27 and 28 at the UC Berkeley School of Law. The symposium, sponsored by Berkeley Law’s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, is focused on Indian Country issues including, crime, environmental justice, and international human rights.

“I graduated from Berkeley in 2007 and had the amazing opportunity to study under one of the most prominent scholars of Indian law ever, Philip Frickey.  He passed away at the age of 57 in July of 2010,” said Pearl.  “He was the single most important mentor to me and countless other lawyers and law professors.  The conference is dedicated to him, and his call to enhance scholarship of Indian issues with empirical or at least ‘on the ground’ perspectives.”

Professor Pearl’s presentation will focus on criminal jurisdiction in certain states subject to a federal law, referred to as Public Law 280.  The tribal-state relations in these  jurisdictions are very different than those in states not subject to Public Law 280, primarily because the state government has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes occurring on a reservation in the Indian community.  In non-Public Law 280 states, the state government has no jurisdiction.

This law has been the subject of criticism by tribes and states for several decades. In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.  It permits tribes in Public Law 280 states to petition the Federal government and request that it assert criminal jurisdiction over on-reservation crimes in addition to the state and tribal governments.

“My presentations, and forthcoming article, argue that while this policy is a minor improvement, it misses the bigger picture that plagues Indian tribes in Public Law 280 states.  This policy fails to consider the aggregating effects of Public Law 280 affecting Indian Country for over 50 years.  By approaching the unique problems for tribes in Public Law 280 states, hard to find federal resources will be more efficiently used while rendering more comprehensive results for Indian Country,” said Pearl.

Pearl, who teaches Property Law and Indian Law,  focuses his research on Indian issues, the law of restitution, sports law, and legislative process. Professor Pearl is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma.

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