Introduction and Overview

The clerk will have done many things in preparation for a hearing including sending Notices to parties, informing judges of an up coming hearing to give them time to prepare, and setting up the courtroom.

In most of Alaska there are not dedicated courtrooms for holding tribal court hearings so often the room is used for other purposes. There may be rearranging to be done to make the room ready to be used as a courtroom. Setting up a table, a suitable number of chairs, and teleconferencing equipment may be necessary. The clerk may have coffee, water, paper, pens, and other office supplies available for the judges and the clerk’s use. The clock should be set to the correct time and placed so that it is visible to the clerk and judges. The case files, and a copy of the tribal codes or ordinances should be on the table for research and review by the judges. The clerk needs to have access to the court calendar for setting the date and time of the next hearing.

If the hearing is being tape recorded, the recorder needs to be set up, and checked to make sure it is working. The counter should be set to 000 for a new tape, or set to the last number on the tape if it has been used for previous hearings. The tape should be dated and named with the case name/number.

Due to the vast distances and mobile population, parties, judges, and/or witnesses often need to be connected to the hearing via teleconference. The teleconference equipment or speakerphone need to be set up and checked. The numbers of all parties and any others who need to be connected telephonically need to be available. It is best to put teleconference numbers in the written Notice whenever possible.

A well prepared clerk and a thoroughly set up courtroom are essential for a smooth running of the tribal court hearing.