PRESS RELEASE – NAVAJO NATION SHIPROCK, NEW MEXICO, COURT SET HEARING ON NAVAJO NATION’S MOTION TO STOP DINEH BENALLY FROM CONTINUING ILLEGAL HEMP CULTIVATION
SHIPROCK, NAVAJO NATION—The Shiprock District Court set a motion hearing for tomorrow September 17, 2020 at 10:30 A.M. MDT to hear arguments on the Navajo Nation’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to stop Defendant Dineh Benally’s illegal hemp operation pending the resolution of the case. The Nation’s Motion was filed with the court on June 29, 2020. Defendant Benally filed a Response in Opposition on July 6, 2020, and the Nation filed a Reply Memorandum on July 21, 2020. All of these pleadings are available on the Navajo Nation Department of Justice’s website at http://nndoj.org/press-release.aspx.
The Department of Justice has set up webex access and a call-in line for members of the public to listen to the arguments of the Navajo Nation and the Defendants.
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Meeting number (access code): 126 590 1343
Meeting password: public (Numeric password if requested: 782542)
Ø To join by phone, dial: (415) 655-0001
Enter the meeting number/access code: 126 590 1343# (Enter numeric password, if needed: 782542#)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marquita Garnenez, Phone: (928) 871-6345
Date: September 10, 2020
PRESS RELEASE – SHIPROCK COURT DENIES DINEH BENALLY’S MOTION TO DISMISS THE NAVAJO NATION’S LAWSUIT TO STOP ILLEGAL HEMP CULTIVATION
SHIPROCK, NAVAJO NATION—On September 10, 2020, the Shiprock District Court denied the baseless arguments made by Defendant Dineh Benally that the Navajo Nation’s lawsuit against him and his companies should be dismissed. In a nineteen-page Order, the Court reviewed, analyzed and denied each of the four unfounded arguments made by Dineh Benally. Benally had claimed that (1) the Shiprock Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, (2) the Nation must resolve the matter through the San Juan Regional Farm Board – on which Benally serves as President, (3) the Nation failed to join the San Juan River Farm Board – which is an entity of the Nation, and (4) Benally even denied knowledge of the existence of co-defendants Navajo Gold and Native
American Agricultural Company – despite claiming in the press and on his websites to be the founder and owner of both. The Court rejected all of these arguments.
“I am very pleased with the Court’s ruling and look forward to a prompt hearing to stop this dangerous and illegal activity while the case proceeds. I have seen firsthand the disastrous impacts of Benally’s hemp operations and have met with dozens of harmed neighbors, farmers, and community members and we look forward to a prompt resolution of this matter by the Court,” said Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul.
The Navajo Nation filed this lawsuit on June 12, 2020 against Dineh Benally, Native American Agriculture Company, and Navajo Gold Company seeing to stop the illegal and nregulated
growth, production and sale of hemp transporting, licensing, and selling industrial hemp within the exterior boundaries of the Navajo Nation. As a part of the lawsuit, the Navajo Nation also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a request for a preliminary injunction to stop Benally’s hemp operation pending the resolution of the case, the Court will now consider that motion, according to the September 10, 2020 Order.
The Navajo Nation Council and President Jonathan Nez have both reiterated that growing, cultivating and marketing industrial hemp is illegal on the Navajo Nation.
“While the Court’s ruling is favorable to the Nation, it comes one month after the hearing on this matter which means one additional month of illegal hemp cultivation by the Defendants. Any delay is ultimately a win for Dineh Benally to continue his illegal hemp operation,” said McPaul.
The Navajo Nation is represented by Charlie Galbraith in this case. Mr. Galbraith is a partner at the Jenner & Block law firm. He is also an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and a former federal prosecutor.
Anyone with information regarding illegal hemp farming on the Navajo Nation can contact Mr. Galbraith at CGalbraith@jenner.com or Attorney General McPaul at General@nndoj.org.