Recognition of Tribal Court Orders

American Indians may be petitioned for involuntary commitment through the state process as specified in A.R.S. § 36-501 et seq., or may be subject to the jurisdiction and laws of the tribal nation, dependent on where the behavioral health crisis occurred. In the event an individual is subject to a civil Tribal involuntary commitment order, the Tribal Court order shall be recognized as specified in A.R.S. § 12-136. Recognition is an important step in involuntary commitment so any Arizona, county or local government will recognize the Tribal court order. This Arizona law provides for the recognition and enforcement of Tribal Court orders for involuntary commitment to treatment.

A registered COT provider may admit the member pending the recognition of a tribal court order. The mental health treatment facility must discharge the member if the tribal court order is not filed for recognition by the close of business on the next day that the court is open after the admission to the treatment facility of the member. In the event this date falls on a tribal holiday, the tribal court order must be filed by the close of business on the following day.

Once a member is committed to a mental health treatment facility off-reservation the commitment order is subject to the jurisdiction of the State and decisions regarding discharge or release of the member shall be made by the facility providing involuntary treatment. 10 days prior to discharge or release the mental health facility shall notify the tribal court that issued the original commitment order of the facilities intention to discharge or release the member. Any necessary outpatient follow-up and transportation of the member to the jurisdiction of the tribal court shall be provided as outlined in the Intergovernmental Agreement between the TRBHA’s and the Tribe.

The medical director of the treatment facility may motion to amend the original treatment order and request the member for admission to the Arizona State Hospital (ASH).

For additional information regarding the process and procedures under state law for recognizing and enforcing a Tribal Court order see AMPM 320-U and Attachment B, A.R.S. § 12-136 Flow Chart.

For more information regarding the Rules of Procedure for the Recognition of Tribal Court Civil Judgements and Rules of Procedure for the Enforcement of Tribal Court Involuntary Commitment Orders see additional resources.