This morning, April 8, 2014, Navajo Nation Window Rock, Ariz., District Court Judge Carol Perry did not make a decision during a hearing on a request by Speaker Johnny Naize’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order against 12 Council delegates and one legislative branch employee.
Instead Perry ordered another hearing, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. on April 16, 2014.
The April 16, 2014, hearing will be on a request from Naize to disqualify the attorneys for the 12 delegates and one employee, who are being represented by the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. The lead attorney is Attorney General Harrison Tsosie.
I’ve requested a copy of the request by Naize to disqualify the attorney general and NDOJ and as soon as I receive it from the court, I’ll post it.
The April 16, 2014, hearing will also involve a response from NDOJ and the attorney general about why they should remain as the attorneys for the 12 delegates and one employee and also why Judge Perry should dismiss Naize’s TRO and civil complaint against the 12 delegates and employee because Naize failed to properly follow the Navajo Nation Sovereign Immunity Act when he filed his TRO and civil complaint against the delegates, who are tribally elected officials.
Naize is represented by the Denver, Colo., law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. The law firm’s attorneys that are assigned to Naize’s case are Troy A. Eid, Brian Lewis and Harriet A. McConnell.
At this morning’s hearing before Judge Perry, Lewis, who is a former NDOJ attorney, was the only attorney for Naize presenting legal arguments and answers to the court. Naize sat on Lewis’ right side.
Attorney General Tsosie and NDOJ attorney Henry Howe represented the 12 delegates and one employee at this morning’s hearing but Howe was the only attorney that spoke on behalf of the delegates and one employee.
Judge Perry also ordered Lewis and Howe to bring all the evidence that she ordered them to bring for today’s hearing, “the English transcript of the April 4, 2014,” Council special session that included specific identification of where the Navajo language was used and the English translation of the Navajo spoken language. Perry also ordered the identification of text that was written in Navajo in the English transcript of the special session on April 4, 2014.
She also ordered the attorneys to submit “a true account of the presence and absence of individual members constituting a quorum from the beginning to the end of the April 4, 2014, special session.” She explained that her order regarding a quorum was to identify “any changes in the membership entering or exiting the floor.”
And Perry also ordered the submittal of an audio copy of the April 4, 2014, special Council session.
At today’s hearing, attorneys informed Perry that they were only able to produce the audio copy of the April 4, 2014, special Council session.
They also informed Perry that legislative staff worked on the transcript of the April 4, 2014, special session until 1 a.m. on April 8, 2014, and that they had finished transcribing about half of the session.
Also this morning, Perry instructed the attorneys to file all motions regarding the TRO and civil complaint on April 14, 2014, and all responses to the motions on April 15, 2014.
Naize stated in his TRO that he needed the TRO to immediately block the 12 delegates and one employee from allegedly taking over the Office of the Speaker and “perpetrating further unlawful behavior.”
After the hearing, which started about 10 a.m. and ended about 10:41 a.m., the 12 delegates and one employee exited through the front door of the court building. But Naize took the back door.
The 12 delegates named in Naize’s TRO and civil complaint are Alton Shepherd, LoRenzo Bates, Nelson BeGaye, Russell Begaye, Josh Lavar Butler, Lorenzo Curley, Jonathan Hale, Jonathan Nez, Leonard Pete, Danny Simpson, Leonard Tsosie and Dwight Witherspoon.
Shepherd is the delegate who sponsored Legislation 0069-14, the removal of Naize as speaker by the Council, which was amended by L. Tsosie for the Council to place Naize on administrative leave with pay. And Bates was named by Simpson and Tsosie to be the interim speaker pro temp in the absence of Naize. The council’s vote on the directive by Simpson and Tsosie was 12 in favor, 0 opposed.
Bates, as speaker pro temp, issued a PRESS RELEASE today, April 8, 2014, that assured the legislative staff and Navajo people “that functions of the Navajo Nation government will remain in tact to continue to serve the Navajo people.”
He also denied Naize’s allegations, which were part of Naize’s TRO and civil complaint, that the 12 delegates, including himself, “physically seized offices” and did “physical harm” to Naize and his staff, who supported him.
Naize also claimed that the 12 delegates and one employee continued “to threaten and harass the speaker, staff and supporters of following and satisfying the rules set forth in Navajo statutory and fundamental law.”
Bates also called for an “end to the divisiveness between Council members and implored delegates to unit and work together for the betterment of Dine’ citizens and to begin to move forward. We are here to serve the Navajo people and that should remain the focus of Council at this time.”