The Tribal Court Elders Panel is a culturally-based program that addresses delinquent behavior among youth. It serves low-risk offenders who are better served by reparative rather than punitive justice. Elders of the tribe volunteer their time to sit on the panel, and they meet at the court every two weeks to engage with young (18–25 years old), first-time, non-violent offenders who have been charged with minor criminal offenses.
Offenders volunteer to participate on the panel, and if they complete the one-year requirements that are imposed upon them, the offender's charges are dismissed in court.
The Tulalip Court Elders Panel may require: regular appearances before the panel, writing letters of apology, community service, substance abuse treatment, imposed curfews, UAs, research of family history, spiritual activity (not necessarily religious), anger management classes, mental health evaluations and no new law violations.
Tribal court’s previous Chief Judge Bass referred more than 65 young people to the panel in the last nine years. Fewer than ten percent have returned to the court system.
Recognized by the Washington State Bar Association for the Local Hero Award of 2009
Several members of the Tulalip Tribal Court's Elders Panel have been honored in the past by the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) for the Local Hero Award. The WSBA Board of Governors searches statewide for noteworthy programs that have made substantial contributions to their communities, such as the Tulalip Tribal Court Elders Panel. Most often, these awards go to lawyers, but in special circumstances, this recognition is bestowed upon non-lawyers. Congratulations to the important work of the Tulalip Tribal Court Elders Panel for their civic contributions to this community and our young adults.
Current members of the Tulalip Elders Panel 2019: