Violate COVID-19 curfew, Mandatory jail time & fine proposed in Navajo Council bill

Greetings Relatives/Frens/Humans, the Navajo Council Naabik’iyati Committee is scheduled to meet today, Thursday, 9.17.20, via teleconfenence, which means you can attend by tuning into the following social media sites:

Livestream will be available online at:
NNC Facebook:

I posted the proposed Naabik’iyati or Naabi agenda, which I’m sure will change when the Council Delegates begin to adopt it. Under Council rules, the Delegates can add or delete items or change how items are called to the floor. For example, they’ve moved Reports, which are at top of their agenda, to the end of their agenda so they can debate and act on legislation.

Legislation on the proposed agenda to keep an eye on is Legislation 0210-20 because if you are caught for the third time violating the Navajo Nation emergency COVID-19 curfew, you will be paying a $1,000 fine and spending 30 days in jail.

That is one of three criminal sentences proposed in legislation heading to the Navajo Nation Council.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Eugene Tso is sponsoring Legislation 0210-20, which seeks Council approval of the enactment of new sentences for violating an emergency order or action.

The Council’s Law and Order Committee gave 0210-20 their unanimous support Tuesday. Tso’s bill now heads to the Naabik’iyati Committee and then to the Council.

Tso’s legislation also went before the Council’s Health, Education and Human Services Committee, where it was unanimously opposed Sept. 2.

According Navajo Nation Chief Prosecutor Gertrude Lee, there are no sentencing provisions for violating the Navajo Nation COVID-19 health curfews, which is why Tso proposed sentences.

Lee reported to the Law and Order that the lack of sentences resulted in the tribal police citing alleged curfew violators for being public nuances, which allowed tribal judges to sentence a guilty offender to either a maximum of $1,000 and, or 30 days in jail.

She said that the proposed sentences, which are proposed to be in the Navajo Nation criminal code, would also making sentencing uniform.

Lee noted that because the sentences for being a public nuisance, which is a civil offense in the Navajo code, is not mandatory, tribal judges are allowed to pick and choose a penalty.

For example, she said, a tribal judge in Chinle sentenced a violator of the emergency COVID-19 curfew to 30 days and another tribal judge only gave a warning to another offender.

Lee also emphasized that the proposed sentences are for violating an emergency order or action and emergency orders are issued by the Navajo Nation Emergency Management Commission and the president.

And so, she said, the Council must have trust in the emergency management commission and the president to issue emergency order or actions that would always be in the best interest of the Navajo people.

The proposed criminal sentencing provisions state that a “person commits violation of an emergency order or action if he or she recklessly, knowingly, intentionally, or negligently fails to comply with any requirement or prohibition of an emergency order or action.”

The proposed definition of an emergency order includes ‘”any order which mandates or prohibits certain activities by individuals, and which is issued by the Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Commission on Emergency Management, the president of the Navajo Nation or chief justice of the Judicial Branch during a state of emergency as declared by the Navajo Nation president or his or her designee.”

The proposed definition of an emergency action “includes any authorized action taken by the Navajo Nation Council or Navajo president during a state of emergency as declared by the Navajo Nation president or his or her designee.”

There is also proposed language that the “(l)ack of notice or failure to receive notice of the declaration of emergency or emergency order or action shall not be a defense.”

The following are the proposed sentences:

  1. Any person found guilty of a first offense shall be ordered to pay a fine of $500.
  2. Any person found guilty of a second offense during the same declaration of emergency shall be ordered to pay a fine of $1,000.
  3. Any person found guilty of a third or subsequent offense during the same declaration of emergency shall be ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and to term of imprisonment of 30 days.
  4. When the offender is a corporation, partnership, unincorporated association, government, or government authority, or an individual registered to do business within the Navajo Nation, the sentence may include suspension, or cancellation of business registration, or other business authority issued by the Navajo Nation.

There is also a proposed criminal sentencing section in Tso’s legislation for making the proposed sentences “mandatory,” which means tribal judges can no longer pick and choose sentences, including giving an offender a warning.

According to the proposed provision for mandatory sentencing, the “fine amounts and imposition of term of incarceration are mandatory, not at the discretion of the court, and based solely on the first-time or recurrence of the conviction.”

The proposed mandatory sentencing provision, “No fine imposed for any conviction of this offense may be converted to community service work, unless the court receives evidence that a defendant is unable to pay the fine. Before converting the fine to community service work, in whole or in part, the court will consider installment payments made by defendant over a reasonable period of time in lieu of the conversion.”

The proposed mandatory sentencing provision also addresses jail time.

According to the Tso’s legislation, “No portion of any term of incarceration shall be suspended or subject to prohibition or parole. If a defendant is actively employed at the time of sentencing and provides evidence of such to the court, the court may order the defendant to report to the detention center on days off of work until the sentence is served in jail. Any deviation from a consecutive 30-day term of incarceration must be detailed in the sentencing order with the specific dates and times the defendant must report to the detention center.”

Public comments on Tso’s legislation should be submitted to The full legislation can be viewed at:

Window Rock, Navajo Nation
Thursday, September 17, 2020 – 10:00 AM

PRESIDING CHAIR: Honorable Seth Damon, Speaker, Navajo Nation Council
Hon. Seth Damon, Speaker
Hon. Elmer P. Begay Hon. Kee Allen Begay, Jr. Hon. Paul Begay Hon. Eugenia Charles-Newton (C)
Hon. Nathaniel Brown Hon. Herman M. Daniels, Jr. Hon. Pernell Halona Hon. Vince R. James
Hon. Amber Kanazbah Crotty Hon. Mark A. Freeland Hon. Carl Roessel Slater (VC) Hon. Eugene Tso
Hon. Jamie Henio (C) Hon. Rickie Nez (C) Hon. Charlaine Tso Hon. Otto Tso (VC)
Hon. Raymond Smith, Jr. (VC) Hon. Wilson Stewart, Jr. Hon. Daniel E. Tso (C) Hon. Edmund Yazzie
Hon. Jimmy Yellowhair Hon. Thomas Walker, Jr. (VC) Hon. Edison J. Wauneka (C) Chair & (VC) Vice Chair

    (m) (s) (v)
    (A)State of New Mexico’s Update/Presentation Related to COVID-19, Responses and Plans in Working with the Navajo Nation by Lynn A. Trujillo, Cabinet Secretary – New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, and Aiko Allen, Tribal Liaison – New Mexico Department of Health
    (m) (s) (v)
    (B) Report on Towers and Cellphone Services by Yvonne Curley, Owner – ClearAbundance
    (m) (s) (v)
    (A)LEGISLATION 0197-20: An Action Relating to Resources and Development, Budget and Finance, and Naabik’íyáti’ Committees, and Navajo Nation Council; Approving and Adopting the Navajo Nation CARES Fund Chapter Distribution Expenditure Plan
    SPONSOR: Honorable Mark A. Freeland
    CO-SPONSOR: Honorable Eugenia Charles-Newton
    CO-SPONSOR: Honorable Seth Damon
    CO-SPONSOR: Honorable Pernell Halona
    CO-SPONSOR: Honorable Vince James
    CO-SPONSOR: Honorable Charlaine Tso
    (m) (s) (v)
    09/04/2020: REFERRAL MOTION: Motion to Refer legislation 0197-20 back to the Resources and Development Committee thence the Naabik’iyati’ Committee and bring back to the Navajo Nation Council at the next Navajo Nation Special Session; Motioned by: Honorable Carl Roessel Slater; Seconded by: Honorable Edison J. Wauneka; Vote: 11 in favor, 10 opposed (Speaker Damon not voting)
    (A)LEGISLATION 0210-20: An Act to Relating Health, Education and Human Services, Law and Order, Naabik’íyáti’ and the Navajo Nation Council; Amending Title 17, Law and Order Code, by Enacting as an Offense, Section 378, “Violation of an Emergency Order or Action”
    SPONSOR: Honorable Eugene Tso
    (m) (s) (v)
    (B) LEGISLATION: 0221-20: An Action Relating to Naabik’íyáti’ Committee; Amending the Plan
    of Operation for the Office of Miss Navajo Nation
    SPONSOR: Honorable Seth Damon
    (m) (s) (v)
    AGENDA SUBJECT TO CHANGE: The public is advised that the Navajo Nation Council Agenda and the Agendas of the Standing Committees are not final until
    adopted by a majority vote of the Navajo Nation Council or the Standing Committee at a Navajo Nation Council or a Standing Committee meeting pursuant to 2
    N.N.C. §§163 and 183, Navajo Nation Council Rule of Order No. 7, and Standing Committee Rule of Order No. 8.
    Livestream will be available online at:
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One thought on “Violate COVID-19 curfew, Mandatory jail time & fine proposed in Navajo Council bill

  1. The Council is so behind in so many issue I find it difficult to that they make these ruling without much thought. The Three branch offices are not working together on these issues. Judges have been deciding cases in this same manner for years. we need direct involvement in legislating laws making.

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