First off, I hope that the deposition of Navajo Nation presidential candidate Chris Deschene by the attorneys for presidential candidates Dale Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne is FINALLY underway at private attorney David Jordan’s law office in Gallup, N.M.
It is now 2:21 p.m. and the deposition was ordered to begin at 9 a.m. today, Oct. 6, 2014, by the Navajo Nation Office of Hearings and Appeals on Oct. 3, 2014, after Deschene reneged on his word to take a Navajo language fluency test in the OHA office in Window Rock, Ariz., on Oct. 2, 2014, which no one knew about because a gag ordered was issued by the OHA on the entire proceeding. The test was part of the legal discovery phase or evidence gathering conducted by the attorneys for Tsosie and Whitethorne.
This issue of Deschene being ordered to take a Navajo language fluency resulted after Tsosie and Whitethorne obtained copies of Deschene’s candidacy affidavit, in which Deschene claimed that he spoke the Navajo language fluently. But when Deschene was campaigning, he admitted numerous times that he was learning the Navajo language.
Tsosie and Whitethorne filed election complaints against Deschene after the tribal primary election on Aug. 26, 2014, which is when Deschene came in second and Joe Shirley Jr. came in first.
The OHA dismissed the two complaints because they were filed after the grievance deadline. Tsosie and Whitethorne appealed the OHA decision to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, which ruled against the OHA because the contents of Deschene’s candidacy affidavit, which was filed with the Navajo Election Office, was only known to him.
The Supreme Court also emphasized that the Navajo people have a right to a president that speaks the Navajo language. The justices, in their decision, also set standards for what constitutes fluency in the Navajo language and ordered the OHA to hold a hearing in five days, which was Oct. 3, 2014. But since Deschene refused to take the Navajo language fluency test on Oct. 2, 2014, the attorneys for Tsosie and Whitethorne asked for Hearing Officer Richie Nez to order a default judgement against Deschene for ignoring Nez’s order to him to take the test and for blocking the legal efforts of the attorneys for Tsosie and Whitethorne to gather evidence.
On Oct. 3, 2014, Deschene’s attorneys asked Nez to dismiss the election complaints because the complaining parties had not proven their case, which was that Deschene lied on his candidacy affidavit when he stated that he spoke fluent Navajo.
This morning, Oct. 6, 2014, started with Deschene’s attorney, Brian Lewis, asking Nez to disqualify Dale Tsosie’s attorney, David Jordan, because one of Deschene’s former attorney, Calvin Lee, was a former client of Jordan, which created a conflict of interest. Deschene has gone through four attorneys.
Jordan argued that when he became Tsosie’s attorney, that Lee was not Deschene’s attorney and that Lee is no longer Deschene’s attorney for reasons that are unknown to him. And Jordan said he would rather not ever know the reasons. He added that the motion to disqualify was another ploy by Deschene to drag out the Navajo fluency test.
Nez dismissed the motion to disqualify Jordan because Deschene’s attorney, Brian Lewis, had failed to show how Deschene had been harmed.
Lewis then said that Deschene did not agreed on Oct. 3, 2014, to have his deposition, which involved Whitethorne’s attorney Justin Jones of Farmington, N.M., questioning him in the Navajo language, video taped. Deschene agrees to being audio recorded, Lewis said.
After legal arguments between Jordan, Jones and Lewis that included either Jordan or Jones telling Lewis that Deschene needs to stop acting like a prima donna and take the Navajo language fluency test, Nez ordered Deschene to have his deposition video taped and to have everyone involved and present during the deposition to sign a gag order and confidentiality statement.
One of Lewis’ arguments was that Deschene said that the videographer, Marley Shebala, made statements that showed her “disdain” for him.
Jordan argued that Shebala was present at the Oct. 3 hearing and that she had the same video camera with her. He also noted that the attorneys for Tsosie and Whitethorne had very little time to hire a videographer and Shebala was available.
Yes, folks, I was hired by Jordan to video tape the deposition and yes, I signed the gag and confidentiality agreement.
BUT then…after Nez ordered Deschene to be deposed with a video camera, Jordan and Jones found out that Deschene and his supporters had gone to lunch. Deschene was not in the room when the attorneys were arguing before Nez, who was on speaker phone.
It was then decided among the attorneys that the deposition would begin at 1 p.m. When I returned at 1 p.m., Lewis said that Deschene was on his way with a videographer. Jordan called me into another office and said that I was no longer needed, which is why I am blogging what happened this morning and why I will be posting what I video taped, which is all the legal arguments.
Now if Dechene had just allowed the deposition to move along after everyone, including me, signed the gag and confidentiality statement, I would not be blogging and posting videos of what happened this morning. But I guess it was meant to be…and so once I was released by Jordan, I was FREE to blog and post my videos of what happened this morning.
My only regret is that before I left the law office, I was unable to ask Dechene what were the statements that I made that made him think that I had “disdain” for him.