Impartiality and Confidentiality

It is critical for the integrity of the tribal court, that tribal court clerks maintain impartiality for all persons and cases that come before the tribal court. The clerk must remain neutral and not be or appear biased against any particular side or party. Just as tribal court judges must maintain impartiality, so must the clerk for the tribal court to be perceived as fair.

It is equally important for the integrity of the tribal court that tribal court clerks maintain confidentially on all matters made confidential by the tribal court. For example, most Alaska tribal courts handle child welfare cases which they make confidential. Clerks shall not talk about such cases, write about them, or otherwise disclose to any unauthorized person for any purpose any confidential information acquired in the course of their duties, or acquired through unauthorized disclosure by another. A clerk shall refrain from commenting about proceedings in a court or pending cases that is not already a matter of public record. Confidential information received in the course of the clerk’s duties must remain confidential and must not be used for personal gain. Clerks shall not discuss confidential information regarding tribal court cases and pending cases with anyone outside the tribal court room.

Oath of Confidentiality, Fairness, and Impartiality

Most tribes require tribal court clerks to take an oath of confidentially, fairness, and impartiality when they assume the job of tribal court clerk. Here is an example of such an oath:

“I _____________________ , do solemnly swear and affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the __________ Tribal Government, and that I will faithfully and diligently perform the duties of the tribal court clerk to the utmost of my ability, with impartiality and without improper favor, to the end that justice may be fully served. I will not let personal views and relationships affect the performance of my duties. Further, I do solemnly affirm that I will not discuss the proceedings of any case outside the chambers of the _________ Tribal Courtroom, nor will I allow anyone access to confidential files without proper authority.”