Last updated November 7, 2018

 

Recent Supreme Court Summaries
2018 OPINIONS
  SC-CV-15-18 Austin Bahe v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission and Concerning Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority, Real Party in Interest. Opinion. (June 29, 2018).
  SC-CV-37-18 Mun Kang v. Chinle Family Court and Concerning Chastity Kang, Real Party in Interest. Opinion. (September 21, 2018)
  SC-CV-41-18 Vincent Yazzie v. Joe Shirley, Jr. Opinion (October 10, 2018)

 

2017 OPINIONS
1. SC-CV-18-17 Kathleen Arviso v. Norma Muskett. Opinion. (April 5, 2017).
2. SC-CV-32-17 Earl Apachito v. Navajo Election Administration. Opinion. (July 14, 2017)
3. SC-CV-67-16 Northern Edge Casino and the Navajo Nation v. Window Rock District Court and Concerning Irene Johnson. Opinion. (July 31, 2017)
4. SC-CV-64-17 Terlyn Sherlock v. Navajo Election AdministrationOpinion. (December 26, 2017).
 
2016 OPINIONS
1. SC-CV-20-15 Falana Haldley v. Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety. Opinion. (February 10, 2016).
2. SC-CV-68-15 Alice N. Barton v. Tony K. Lee. Opinion. (March 31, 2016).
3. SC-CV-22-12 Karen Daddis v. Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise and TEME, Inc. Opinion. (June 2, 2016)
4. SC-CR-03-16 Navajo Nation v. Roy Tso, Jr. Opinion. (October 25, 2016)
5.

SC-CV-59-16
SC-CV-60-16

Stanley Herrera v. Pedro Apache
Stanley Herrera v. Hotona Secatero.
Opinion. (October 28, 2016)
6. SC-CV-37-16 Nancy Martine-Alonzo and Martha Garcia v. Carolyn C. Jose and Concerning Navajo Election Administration. Opinion. (November 3, 2016).
7. SC-CV-51-16 Theresa Becenti-Aguilar v. Steven Begay and Concerning the Navajo Election Administration. Opinion. (December 16, 2016).
2015 OPINIONS
1. SC-CV-68-14 Dale Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne v. Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and the Navajo Election Administration. Opinion. In this opinion, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court invalidates two Navajo Nation Council resolutions, Resolutions CD-80-14 and CD-81-14, and orders the Navajo Elections Administration Director to hold the general election as soon as possible for the Office of the President with candidates Joe Shirley, Jr., and Russell Begaye. The Court also orders the NEA to hold elections for six vacant positions of the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors in conjunction with the presidential election. Resolution CD-80-14 called for a new primary election for the Office of the President to be held in June 2015 and special general election in August 2015. Resolution CD-81-14 pardoned and reinstated Navajo Board of Election Supervisors who had been found in indirect civil contempt and removed from office. The Supreme Court reiterates that all powers not delegated are reserved to the Navajo People. (February 20, 2015).
2. SC-CV-09-15 In the Matter of Raymond DeeRoy Spencer, Decendent, Chenoah Bah Jensen v. Jean LaMarr. Opinion. In this opinion, the Navajo Nation Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Appellant LaMarr for lack of jurisdiction. A certfied copy of the decision being appealed, as required by the Navajo Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure, was not attached to the notice of appeal, and therefore, dismissal of the improperly filed appeal is mandated. The Court also noted that the dismissal is supported by Diné bi beenahazáanii, under which disputes over the body of a deceased person is prohibited. (March 27, 2015).
3. SC-CV-68-14 Dale Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne v. Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and the Navajo Election Administration. Opinion Granting Clarification. In this matter, the Department of Justice on behalf of the acting controller sought clarification on how to proceed to fund the special election consistent with Navajo Nation law after the acting controller was ordered to identify and transfer funds to the Navajo Election Administration to supplement and/or replenish its operating budget in order to fund the special election. The Department of Justice stated that the acting controller does not have unilateral authority to transfer funds without concurrence of the oversight legislative committee or the Navajo Nation Council under the Appropriations Act. The Court held that the Navajo Nation is legally obligated to expend funds to carry into effect the Election Code. As an exceptional relief, the Court further held its judgment is the type that can be funded by the Contingency Management Fund, from which payment is authorized to respond to any court order arising from lawsuits against the Navajo Nation. (April 13, 2015).
4. SC-CV-45-14

A.P. minor petitioner v. Crownpoint Family Court. Opinion. (May 14, 2015).

5. SC-CV-31-14, SC-CV-32-14, SC-CV-33-14, SC-CV-34-14, SC-CV-35-14

Navajo Housing Authority v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission and Concerning Myra Lisa Taylor, Jackson Tsosie, Pierrette Baldwin-Gumbrecht, Eleanor Jim and Sarah Riggs, Real Parties in Interest. Opinion. (May 15, 2015).

6. SC-CV-60-10 Iiná Bá, Inc., v. Navajo Business Regulatory, Order Granting Partial Reconsideration. In this order, the Court granted reconsideration to address the objection by the Office of Navajo Business Regulatory to the granting of attorney fees to Iiná Bá under the Navajo Sovereign Immunity Act. In its reconsideration, the Court found that it is within its power to award fees upon finding of special circumstances and that in this case, special circumstances exist. The Court therefore affirmed the award of attorney fees to Iiná Bá. (September 3, 2015).
2014 OPINIONS
1.  SC-CV-50-13

Navajo Nation, Office of the Prosecutor v. Kayenta District Court and Concerning Benson Holmes, Real Party in Interest. Opinion. The Supreme Court issues its opinion regarding a petition for writ of superintending control filed by the Prosecutor to quash an order of release issued by the Kayenta District Court before a complaint was filed. The Court issues the writ clarifying the following: the filing of a criminal complaint is necessary before the court has jurisdiction to decide on any portion of the matter; delivery of an unfiled motion to a judge when court is not in session is prohibited ex parte communication; and an arrestee is absolutely to be given an opportunity to be released on bail after an arrest within the statutory time limits through an administrative alternative through the police and department of corrections at 17 N.N.C. §1815. (March 5, 2014).

2.  SC-CV-60-10

Iiná Bá, Inc.v. Navajo Business Regulatory. Opinion. The Supreme Court issues its opinion in this appeal of an OHA decision upholding an award of an engineering services contract to a non-Navajo firm without consideration of Navajo preference. The Court finds that 12 N.N.C. § 346 regarding architect-engineer and land surveying services contracts is not excepted from Navajo business preference due to the absence of an express waiver. Additionally, business preference is expressly protected under the Navajo Bill of Rights. The Court reverses the OHA, finding a violation of both the Navajo Bill of Rights and the Navajo Business Opportunity Act requiring preference in business contracting. (May 15, 2014).

3.  SC-CV-28-12
SC-CV-29-12

Barber v. Navajo Housing Authority; Long v. Navajo Shopping Center, Inc. Opinion.  The Supreme Court affirms the Window Rock District Court's dismissal of two consolidated cases for non-compliance with the notice requirements of the Sovereign Immunity Act. Specifically, 1 N.N.C. §555(A)(2) requires information concerning claims against the Navajo Nation to be stated on the notice of intent to file suit. In the instant consolidated cases, the information was not stated on the notice but was incorporated by reference to a draft complaint attached as an exhibit. The Court finds from the legislative history that the Council had discussed draft complaints and clearly intended for the information to be provided on the face of the notice to sue and that "[t]he delivery of a proposed complaint to a governmental bureaucracy well before it is filed in court may cause confusion when received by various government offices, especially when the contents of the draft complaint are assumed not to be final until filed, and may well be substantially revised, prior to the actual filing." (June 12, 2014).

4.  SC-CV-06-14

Benjamin Shorty v. Delores Greyeyes. Opinion. The Supreme Court grants a writ of habeas corpus, releasing Shorty who was imprisoned first on a bench warrant then a contempt order after failing to respond to a civil summons to answer a claim that he was not paying child support. The Court stated that Shorty had received no notice that a civil proceeding was being converted into a hearing for criminal contempt, which is a criminal charge that must be prosecuted by the Navajo Nation, not by a private party. The Court thereupon set forth the law and procedures for indirect civil and criminal contempt.  (June 16, 2014) .

5.  SC-CV-25-14

Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company v. Window Rock District Court and Concerning Robert Joe, Real Party in Interest. Opinion. The Supreme Court issues its opinion regarding a petition for writ of prohibition filed by the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company to dismiss a complaint for injunctive relief filed by Real Party in Interest in the Window Rock District Court. The Court previously issued a writ and now clarifies the basis and effect of the writ with respect to lower court orders and pending counterclaims. The Court further discusses sovereign immunity as a jurisdictional bar to suits involving NNOGC, its officers, and directors. The Court noted that exceptions to immunity exist for internal disputes of Navajo Nation government, however no party asked that these exceptions be applied to NNOGC as a Navajo Nation "instrumentality." (June 20, 2014) .

6.  SC-CV-41-14

Sahar Nouri v. Crownpoint Family Court and Concerning Kyle Dennison. Opinion. No. SC-CV-41-14. The Supreme Court issues its Opinion and Order Denying Writ of Prohibition regarding competing child custody actions filed by parents in Navajo and state courts. Jurisdiction of the Navajo court over the child was challenged because the child who formerly resided in Fort Defiance now resides with her mother in Albuquerque. The Court affirms that the Nation has jurisdiction over Navajo children wherever they may reside, which arises from inherent sovereignty as acknowledged at 7 N.N.C. 253(B). The Court further affirms that the Álchíní Bi Beehaz’áannii Act is not the basis for jurisdiction over privately filed family actions in which parents are legally capable of making decisions for their children. (July 22, 2014).

7.  SC-CV-57-14
SC-CV-58-14

Dale E. Tsosie v. Christpher C. Deschene, No. SC-CV-57-14 and Hank Whitethorne v. Christopher C. Deschene, No. SC-CV-58-15. Opinion. In this consolidated appeal concerning the application of the 10-day deadline set forth in 11 N.N.C. § 24(A) to file written complaints regarding Presidential candidate Chris Dechene’s sworn statement of his qualifications, specifically regarding fluency in the Navajo Language, the Supreme Court reverses the dismissals of the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) and remands the complaints for adjudication under 11 N.N.C. § 341(A)(1). (October 8, 2014, nunc pro tunc as of September 26, 2014).

8. SC-CV-68-14

Dale E. Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne v. Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and Navajo Election Administration. Opinion. In this opinion, the Court enters a Permanent Writ of Mandamus against the NBOES and NEA and orders the NEA to comply with 11 N.N.C. § 44. (October 23, 2014).

9. SC-CV-68-14

Dale E. Tsosie and Hank Whitethorne v. Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and Navajo Election Administration. Opinion. In this opinion, the Court finds the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors in indirect civil contempt for failing to comply with the Court's order of October 23, 2014, in violation of election laws and knowingly and willfully failing or neglecting to perform duties of the election code. (November 4, 2014, nunc pro tunc as of October 31, 2014).

10.  SC-CV-80-14

Myron McLaughlin v. Russell Begaye. Opinion. No. SC-CV-80-14. The Supreme Court issues its Opinion in which it clarifies the appellate rules as to future filings of election appeals . (December 4, 2014).

     
2013 OPINIONS
1.  SC-CV-64-12

Wauneka et al v. Yazzie et al. Opinion.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court reverses an OHA decision which reversed the Navajo Election Administration's forfeiture and declaration of vacancy of Appellantts' positions as school board members pursuant to 11 N.N.C. § 142(A) after they had missed three consecutive school board meetings. The Court determined that a quorum is not required to invoke forfeiture under Section 142(A) nor can automatic forfeiture be stayed, since Section 142(A) requires forfeiture "by operation of law." Additionally, the OHA may not delay a decision in an election grievance beyond the statutory timelines. (January 4, 2013 recon. den. February 22, 2013)

2.  SC-CV-62-12

Sandoval v. Navajo Election Administration, and Concerning Leo Johnson Real Party in Interest. Opinion on Reconsideration.  The Supreme Court issues its opinion on reconsideration in this appeal of an OHA dismissal on an election grievance. The Court reverses the OHA and orders Leo Johnson disqualified as school board member of the Shiprock Associated Schools Inc. (SASI). The Court emphasizes the duties of the NEA and candidates when conditions concerning qualifications change before an election has taken place. The Court states that the qualifications statute for school board members specifically require mandatory enforcement throughout the term of office. The vacancy shall be filled by special election pursuant to 11 N.N.C.  § 143. (February 26, 2013)

3.  SC-CV-24-10

Neptune Leasing Inc. v. Mountain States Petroleum Corp. and Nacogdoches Oil and Gas Inc. Opinion.The Supreme Court issues its opinion in this appeal of the Shiprock Court's dismissal of a repossession action on the basis of a lack of personal jurisdiction over Mountain States. The Court reverses and remands for further proceedings. The action concerns the sale and re-sale of a helium plant and its assets located on a Navajo Nation business site leasehold performed without involvement or consent of the Navajo Nation and without even a written business site lease. Finding that the Shiprock Court erred in providing conclusory findings as to jurisdiction, the Court found jurisdiction after engaging in a full jurisdictional discussion involving inherent sovereignty, Navajo statutes, and federal common law tests. The parties had additionally challenged subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of a private agreement between the purported buyer and seller which selected Texas as their litigation forum; however the Court stated that no private contractual clause may avoid Navajo Nation jurisdiction over transactions on Navajo Nation land involving assets in which the Navajo Nation may have an interest. Additionally, the Court repeated that there is no such things as an equitable business site lease. (May 13, 2013)

4.  SC-CV-06-13

Dean Haungooah v. Delores Greyeyes, Director, Department of Corrections. Opinion. The Supreme Court issues its opinion regarding a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by a homeless non-Navajo Indian who had been arrested on a bench warrant without first being served with a probation revocation petition, then ordered to be incarcerated after his probation was revoked. The probationer had earlier called in to his probation officer informing him that he was homeless and needed to leave the vicinity in order to find shelter. Having previously granted the writ and ordered the probationer's release, the Court found that a revocation petition must be served unless the Court determines that probable cause exists to show that attempts at service would be futile due to disappearance without contact and other egregious circumstances. Additionally, Diné bi beenahaz’áanii requires that in our restorative justice system, help should be given to a defendant when dire circumstances are known. Finally, the Court emphasized the due process right to counsel. (June 4, 2013).

5.  SC-CV-28-13

Dawn Ashkii v. Kayenta Family Court. Opinion. The Supreme Court issues its opinion regarding a petition for extraordinary writ filed by a mother in a paternity and custody matter in which the judge required that both parents pay $1,000 each for a State of Arizona custody evaluator and, furthermore, informed the mother that she would lose custody if the money was not paid. The Court stated that no Navajo rule or statute requires custody cases to be submitted to mediation or custody evaluation, furthermore a State of Arizona evaluator would not be familiar with customs and traditions of the Navajo people. A custody decision based solely on a parent's inability to pay for a service that is not mandated by law is contrary to fairness and the best interest of the child. Parents should be informed of all options, including pre-trial settlement and peacemaking to resolve custody issues themselves. If information is needed by the family court, a guardian ad litem or Social Services are available to provide reports without charge. (August 19, 2013).

 

Opinions prior to 2013 are not available on this website. 

Opinions from 1969 - 2012 may be found in Volumes 1-9 of the Navajo Nation Reporter
All opinions are further available on VersusLaw and Westlaw subscription services.