Center for Empirical Research in the Law to launch tribal law digitization project

Washington University School of Law’s Center for Empirical Research in the Law (CERL) is partnering with the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota to create an online searchable database of the tribe’s extensive body of laws and court decisions. The innovative project is made possible through a grant from the Bush Foundation.

Steven Gunn, adjunct professor at the law school and lawyer for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, will be working with CERL to create the database.

“Through this project, the tribe will bring together all of its laws and court decisions and put them into a searchable online database, which will be accessible and highly visible to all tribal members and to the general public,” Gunn said.

Gunn will coordinate the legal work to compile, organize and codify the thousands of relevant documents, while CERL will build the technical infrastructure to manage the database and create a user-friendly website for accessing the legal materials.

“The project is ideal for CERL given our extensive experience employing state-of-the-art technology — software programs, high-performance databases, and other quantitative tools — for major empirical research projects,” said Lee Epstein, PhD, co-director of CERL and the Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor.

For more information, visit the School of Law website.