Hon. Christine Williams, Director
Hon. Christine Williams, a member of the Yurok Tribe, certified in Indian Law, has spent her legal career focused on representing Tribes in a broad spectrum of tribal legal matters primarily tribal court development, Indian child welfare and cultural resource protection. She joined the UC Davis School of Law Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies to act as the Director for the Tribal Justice Project in 2018.
She currently serves as the Chief Judge for the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians in El Dorado County. Judge Williams was instrumental in establishing the Family Wellness Court with the El Dorado County Superior Court. The Family Wellness Court is a joint-jurisdiction court which enables judges from both jurisdictions to work in concert to hear cases in one courtroom. This model is second tribal court/state court joint-jurisdictional in the nation, the first in California.
Previously, she assisted in the formation of and development of the Northern California Intertribal Court System, a consortium court serving four tribes in Mendocino County, California, where she also served as their Chief Judge.
Judge Williams has a long history of providing training and education on various areas of Indian law, Child Welfare and history. She serves as an appointee to the Tribal Court State Court Form and is the inaugural Chairperson for the California Tribal Court Judges Association formed in 2016.
California Tribal Court Judges Association, Inaugural Chairperson, 2016 - Present
J.D., Arizona State University College of Law 2000
Federal Indian Law Certificate, Indian Legal Program at Arizona State University College of Law 2000
B.A. Sociology and Women's Studies, University of California, Los Angeles 1996
Areas of Interest
Indian law, Tribal Justice
Jennifer Leal, Training Specialist
Jennifer R. Leal, a descendant of the Washoe and Mono Lake Paiute communities from northern California, joined the UC Davis Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies’ Tribal Justice Project as the Program Administrator in March 2018. She brings to the Tribal Justice Project extensive experience in the areas of tribal relations, tribal court administration and judicial education. Previously, Ms. Leal worked for the National Judicial College – National Tribal Judicial Center in Reno, Nevada as the Program Manager. Therein she utilized her prior role as the Tribal Court Administrator for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada & California – Washoe Tribal Court in Gardnerville, Nevada to inform her work. While working at a national level, she developed distance-learning curricula and facilitated discussions on problem solving tribal court administration challenges. Ms. Leal also contributed to the early idea and design of the Judicial Council of California’s Court Toolkit for Tribal/State/Federal Administrators and Clerks. She became faculty in 2013 and provided education on court administration to Alaska tribal court administrators and clerks using David Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory for adult learners. Since leaving the National Tribal Judicial Center and retuning to California, Ms. Leal served as the Executive Assistant to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ Tribal Chairman, Robert Martin, who was also Chairman in 1987 and represented the Tribe during the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and Morongo Band of Mission Indians. She was introduced to Indian Law at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002 and developed a passion to promote tribal sovereignty through tribal courts. Ms. Leal earned both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in American Indian Studies from UCLA. Her graduate research concentrated on history and law and primarily focused on tribal courts.
M.A. American Indian Studies, University of California, Los Angeles 2017
B.A. American Indian Studies, University of California, Los Angeles 2005
Areas of Interest
American Indian Studies, Tribal Justice Systems, Tribal Nation Building
Alyssa Sanderson, Program Coordinator
Alyssa Sanderson, a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, joined the UC Davis Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies as the Program Coordinator for the Tribal Justice Project in 2019. At UC Davis, she was a leader within the Native American student community, serving as the Vice President and Co-Founder of the Native American Pre-law Association. She also has been actively involved in the Tribal Justice Project, serving as a volunteer for several court improvement projects and trainings for tribal judges, attorneys, and court personnel. Alyssa is passionate about using the law to enhance tribal sovereignty and serve Native American communities. She has recently applied to law school to pursue a career in public interest and social justice.
B.A. Sociology, University of California, Davis 2019
Areas of Interest
Indian law, Tribal Justice, Criminal Justice Reform