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On Demand

Friend of the Court: A Discussion on Tribal Nation Amicus Briefs in Federal and State Litigation

Total Credits: 1 CLE

Average Rating:
Indian Law
Melody McCoy |  Sage G Metoxen |  Paul Spruhan |  Virjinya Ruth Adair Torrez |  Doreen Nanibaa McPaul
58 Minutes
Audio and Video
Original Program Date:
Apr 26, 2023


When should a tribal nation file or join an amicus brief in federal or state courts?  Seminar discusses what counsel for tribal nations might consider when invited to file or join an amicus brief, including what resources are available to assist in coordinating such participation. 


Melody McCoy, Native American Rights Fund Tribal Supreme Court Project 

Sage Metoxen, Principal Attorney, Litigation Unit, Navajo Nation Department of Justice


Paul Spruhan, Assistant Attorney General, Navajo Nation Department of Justice


Doreen McPaul, Esq.; President, Tribal In-House Counsel Association

Virjinya Torrez, Assistant Attorney General, Pascua Yaqui Tribe; Secretary, Tribal In-House Counsel Association



Melody McCoy Related seminars and products

Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund

Melody L. McCoy, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund. Since joining the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) as a staff attorney in 1986, Melody's practice areas primarily have been jurisdiction in Indian country, tribal rights in education, tribal intellectual property rights, and tribal trust funds. She served on NARF's Litigation Management Committee from 1992-1995 and from 2007-2019. She has practiced before all levels of tribal, state, and federal courts, including arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Melody is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Harvard University (B.A.,1981); University of Michigan (J.D., 1986).

Sage G Metoxen Related seminars and products

Senior Attorney

Navajo Nation Department of Justice

Sage Metoxen is a Principal Attorney for the Litigation Unit of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. A member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes of Oklahoma, Sage was born and raised in Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 2013 with a certificate in American Indian Law from the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy. After graduating law school, she moved to the Navajo Nation to work as a staff attorney for DNA People’s Legal Services, Inc. She was then a natural resources attorney for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and has most recently served as Senior Assistant General Counsel for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Sage also serves as an appellate judge for the Suquamish Tribal Court of Appeals. She is admitted to practice law in the state of Arizona and the Navajo Nation.

Paul Spruhan Related seminars and products

Navajo Nation Department of Justice

is Assistant Attorney General of the Litigation and Employment Unit at the Navajo Nation Department of Justice in Window Rock, Arizona. He received his A.B. in 1995 and his A.M. in 1996 from the University of Chicago. He received his J.D. in 2000 from the University of New Mexico. He has several Indian law articles published in law reviews, including A Legal History of Blood Quantum in Federal Indian Law to 1935, 51 South Dakota Law Review 1 (2006). His latest article, CDIB: The Role of the Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood in Defining Native American Identity, will be published by the American Indian Law Journal in May, 2018. He also teaches Indian law topics for Barbri, Inc. and the Tulsa Law School Masters of Jurisprudence in Indian Law Program. He and his wife have two children and live in Fort Defiance on the Navajo Nation. 04/18

Virjinya Ruth Adair Torrez Related seminars and products

Pascua Yaqui Tribe

is an Assistant Attorney General for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, a federally recognized Indian tribe located in Arizona. Virjinya earned both her J.D. and her M.A. in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, and she earned her B.A. in Political Science (specializing in International Relations) and East Asian Studies at the University of Iowa, with certificates in International Business and American Indian and Native Studies. She is admitted to practice in both the federal and state courts of Arizona, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Tohono O’odham Judicial Court, and the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Court. She is also an accredited Veteran Affairs attorney. Virjinya started her legal career as an associate at Vingelli & Errico, a small general practice firm in Tucson, Arizona; was a solo practitioner for a brief period of time; and served five years as an Assistant Attorney General for the Tohono O’odham Nation. Virjinya is a 2016 graduate of the State Bar of Arizona's Bar Leadership Institute; is the Immediate Past Chair of the Executive Council for the State Bar of Arizona’s Indian Law Section; serves as the appointed State Bar of Arizona’s representative on the Arizona State, Tribal & Federal Court Forum; and is a member of NABA-AZ, the Arizona Minority Bar Association, and the Tribal In-House Counsel Association. She is also active in the community and serves on TUSD’s Native American Education Advisory Committee, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona’s Community Investment Team, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona’s Governance Committee, and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona’s Board of Directors. Virjinya's work for the Tribe is varied, but she primarily represents the Tribe’s Public Safety, Human Resources, Education, and Facilities Management Departments and programs. Virjinya is Cherokee/Seminole/Muscogee Creek, and is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. 10/18

Doreen Nanibaa McPaul Related seminars and products

Attorney General

is Navajo (Kinyaa'áanii) and grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Chinle, Arizona. She is a 1991 graduate of Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. She is also a 1995 graduate of Princeton University and earned her Juris Doctorate in 2001 from the ASU College of Law, where she also received a Certificate in Federal Indian Law and served as a staff writer for the ASU Law Journal. After law school, Ms. McPaul clerked for the Honorable Jefferson L. Lankford (retired) at the Arizona Court of Appeals in Phoenix. She has worked as a staff attorney for the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch, as an associate attorney at the Nordhaus Law Firm in Albuquerque, and as a visiting clinical law professor and Interim Director of the Indian Legal Clinic at ASU. Since 2008, Ms. McPaul has worked as an in-house tribal attorney for several Arizona tribes, and currently serves as the Attorney General for her own tribe, the Navajo Nation. As Attorney General, Ms. McPaul is the Nation's Chief Legal Officer and is responsible for representing the legal interests of the Navajo Nation as well as overseeing the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. Ms. McPaul has over 20 years of experience practicing Indian law, and is admitted to practice law in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as before several tribal and federal courts.
Ms. McPaul is a 2013 graduate of the State Bar's Bar Leadership Institute (BLI) and remains active in the State Bar and Indian legal community. In January of 2018, Ms. McPaul was one of the first American Indians appointed to serve on the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors. The Supreme Court of Arizona re-appointed Ms. McPaul to serve on the Board in 2019 and again in 2020. Ms. McPaul is a founding board member and current president of the Tribal In-House Counsel Association (TICA), a growing national organization to support tribes in the exercise and protection of their sovereignty by providing informational networking and other support services and programming to in-house tribal attorneys and federal Indian law practitioners. She also currently serves on the Board to the American Indian Law Center and was most recently elected to membership in The American Law Institute.
Ms. McPaul is a proud military spouse and mom. She is married to SFC Mark McPaul (retired) and they have three sons.



Overall:      4.8

Total Reviews: 5


Debra C

"A sample would have been nice."

Stephen L

"It was a great CLE, concise, thoughtful and informative, very well prepared and skilled practitioners."