Last updated October 10, 2014

 

Recent Supreme Court Summaries
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.  (March 5, 2014). 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.

2.  SC-CV-60-10

Iiná Bá, Inc.v. Navajo Business Regulatory. Opinion.  (May 15, 2014). 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.

3.  SC-CV-28-12
SC-CV-29-12

Barber v. Navajo Housing Authority; Long v. Navajo Shopping Center, Inc. (June 12, 2014). 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."

4.  SC-CV-06-14

Benjamin Shorty v. Delores Greyeyes. Opinion. (June 16, 2014). 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. 

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. (June 20, 2014). 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."

6.  SC-CV-41-14

Sahar Nouri v. Crownpoint Family Court and Concerning Kyle Dennison. Opinion. (July 22, 2014). 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.

7.  SC-CV-57-14
SC-CV-58-14

Dale E. Tsosie v. Christopher C. Deschene, No. SC-CV-57-14, and Hank Whitethorne v. Christopher C. Deschene, SC-CV-58-14. 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).

 

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 quorem 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).

2012 OPINIONS
1.  SC-CV-13-11

Navajo Nation v. RJN Construction Management, Inc., Robert J. Nelson, and the Home for Women and Children, No. SC-CV-13-11.  Opinion.  In this appeal filed by RJN, the Home for Women and Children, and Robert Nelson, the Supreme Court affirms the lower court's permanent order enjoining appellants from blocking access to the worksite and otherwise interfering with the Navajo Nation's legal obligation to build a shelter facility pursuant to a business site lease issued to the Home by the Navajo Nation.  The Court stated that a business site leaseholder's possessory right on tribal trust land is strictly limited by the specific purposes for which the lease has been approved for the holder.  The Court further stated that while the lower court was wrong in excluding contract-based justifications from RJN on the basis of sovereign immunity, the justifications were only relevant insofar as they bear on the consideration of the injunction itself as an equitable remedy. In this case, the Court found harmless error. (January 17, 2012). 

2.  SC-CV-63-11

Victor Bowman v. Delores Greyeyes.  Opinion Bowman files a petition asking the Court to reconsider its Dec. 14, 2011 denial of his application for a writ of habeas corpus.  Reconsideration petitions for special actions where jurisdiction has been declined may not be filed without leave of the Court. The Court treats the petition as a motion for leave but states that, in future, petitions for leave must first be filed pursuant to N.R.C.A.P. Rule 19(d), and must contain sufficient detail for the Court to rule on the request.  In this case, the Court denies the motion as Bowman offers no new argument. (January 24, 2012). 

3.  SC-CV-04-12

Navajo Housing Authority v. John Dennision.  Opinion.  The Court denies NHA's motion for enlargement of time to file a transcript after a previous motion has been denied by the district court, ruling that the district court's discretion pursuant to N.R.C.A.P. Rule 9(a)(2)  includes the authority to deny such motions upon a finding that diligence was lacking. (April 20, 2012). 

4.  SC-CV-16-12

In the Matter of M.C.  Opinion.  The Court denies a petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that 9 NNC 1310(A), which provides for a child's right to assistance of counsel at "all proceedings alleging the delinquency of a child" does not attach at a detention hearing that must be held within 24 hours of detention, on the basis that detention hearings address further detention, not the merits of the charges, to which young men and women are able to speak for themselves.  (July 12, 2012). 

5.  SC-CV-34-12

Roger Baker v. Delores GreyeyesOpinion.  The Court grants a writ of habeas corpus filed after 6 months incarceration by an inmate serving time on multiple sentences in which it had not been specified how the sentences would run, holding that, when not stated in a judgment, multiple sentences are presumed to run concurrently.  (August 24, 2012). 

6.  SC-CV-18-10

Navajo Housing Authority v. Daniel Johns, et al.  Opinion.  In this appeal of the Crownpoint District Court's denial of NHA's motion to dismiss on the basis of sovereign immunity, the Court vacates the denial.  Noting that the issue of NHA's immunity has returned time and again to the Court, first on the basis of NHA's codified plan of operations, subsequently on amendments to both NHA's plan of operations and the Sovereign Immunity Act, the Court finds that NHA had immunity at all times relevant to this action. In reaching its decision, the Court overrules a quartet of cases concerning NHA's immunity and reestablishes its 1987 opinion in NHA v. Dana as the controling case.  (September 10, 2012). 

7.  SC-CV-06-12

Maurice James v. Window Rock Family Court and Concerning Nadine Watson, Michael Katoney and J.L.J., a Minor Child, Real Parties in Interest.  Opinion.  The Court grants James' petition for writ of mandamus where James' adoption filing was not acted on by the family court for several months. The writ compels the timely processing of cases within statutory and rule-based timeframes and emphasizes the responsibilities of the Court Administrator. The Court also addressed the family court's erroneous interpretation of the adoption statute, which the family court interpreted as requiring a separate petition for termination of parental rights (TPRs) to be filed when an adoption is sought.  Clarifying that the Navajo Nation favors formal adoptions with TPRs only in cases of child abuse or neglect, the Court stated that the recent Alchíní bi Beehaz'áanii Act emphasizes that "customary adoptions" must be considered before all other options, including TPR as a last resort.  As the Act does not define customary adoptions, the Court provides the definition in this opinion.  (October 8, 2012). 

8.  SC-CV-64-11

Evelyn Meadows v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission and Concerning Dine College, Real Partyin Interest. Writ of Mandamus. The Court grants a petition for writ of mandamus, finding that the Labor Commission lacked authority to order the recusal of the panel and all previous members. The Court remands the matter for the Commission to hear the merits of the case. (November 2, 2012).

9.  SC-CV-32-10

Will Graven v. Lawrence T. Morgan and James J. Davis.  Opinion. The Court affirms the Window Rock District Court's dismissal of plaintiff's contractual claims on different grounds of capacity and standing. (November 9, 2012).

10.  SC-CV-48-12

Glenyal Bahe v. Adam Platero. Opinion. The Court affirms the Crownpoint Family Court's dismissal of plaintiff's child custody and support action concerning a Navajo family in order to allow the matter to be heard in the Bernalillo district court where a similar action had previously been filed. The Court emphasizes that inherent tribal sovereignty provides Navajo courts with exclusive jurisdiction over matters concerning internal relations between tribal members, and that the courts must be watchful that they do not unnecessarily concede concurrent jurisdiction in such matters. Nevertheless, 7 NNC 253a(E) enables our courts to allow the matter to be heard in another forum in the interest of substantial justice and in the spirit of comity. (December 20. 2012).

2011 OPINIONS
1.  SC-CV-03-10

Timothy Nelson v. Initiative Committee to Reduce Navajo Nation Council, Office of the President et al. Opinion.  In the attorney fee phase of this appeal of the Office of Hearing and Appeals' dismissal, the Supreme Court invalidates the appropriation of public funds to pay attorney fees in this case and the use of a "grant agreement" for attorney payment; and places a moratorium on Navajo Nation discretionary spending through direct disbursement "financial assistance" programs until a statutory and regulatory basis is in place in compliance with Navajo Nation fiduciary laws.  (January 4, 2011). 

2.  SC-CV-58-10

In the Matter of Frank Seanez.  Corrected Opinion.  The Court issues its corrected opinion explaining reinstatement of its disbarment of a Navajo Nation bar member and imposing a civil penalty of triple the amount of funds paid to him by the Navajo Nation Council. Mr. Seanez is further ordered to vacate the position of Chief Legislative Counsel nunc pro tunc as of January 20, 2011.  (January 25, 2011)

3.  SC-CV-27-09

Veronica Wauneka v. Navajo Department of Law Enforcement. Corrected Opinion.  In an appeal involving an award of emotional damages pursuant to a finding of violation of the Navajo Preference in Employment Act, the Court reverses the Navajo Nation Labor Commission's award of emotional damages and affirms imposition of civil fines. The Court sets forth guidelines in remedial orders for emotional distress and distinguishes them from tort claims, stating that the term "damages" is not appropriate in describing such awards. (May 25, 2011, effective February 10, 2011; recon. den., May 25, 2011).

4.  SC-CV-29-07

Kayenta Township Commission v. William and Jodonna Ward et al, Opinion. In an appeal of a district court's decision that found that the KTC lacked authority to file a forcible entry action against trespassers who occupied a business site within the township without a lease, the Court reverses and remands.  The Court stated that the KTC could file a forcible entry action under broad home rule powers vested in them by the Council, and the trial court erred in equating final lease approval authority with actual and exclusive possessory right.(February 25, 2011).

5.  SC-CV-08-11 & Order Amending Opinion

Evelyn Acothley et al v. the Hon. Carol Perry, Opinion and Omnibus Order and Writ of Superintending Control. In this application for a Writ of Superintending Control, the Court denies Petitioners' request for dismissal and disqualification of Judge Carol Perry and Judge T. J. Holgate of the Window Rock District Court and further, issues a writ requiring consolidation of co-conspirators into joint trials in the Discretionary Fund Cases. (March 1, 2011; amended April 29, 2011 with regard only to the payment of juror fees).

6.  SC-CV-33-10

Hasgood et al v. Cedar Unified School District.  Opinion Granting Dismissal.  The Court grants the parties' stipulated dismissal but strongly questions the basis of a federal court's decision in a local school board personnel matter, which lends itself to be read as excluding all state-run schools on the reservation from tribal regulatory and adjudicative jurisdiction. (May 9, 2011). 

7.  SC-CR-01-09

Aaron John v. Navajo Nation, SC-CR-01-09.  Opinion.  In this appeal of a district court's conviction for aggravated battery, the Court reverses the conviction due to lack of a response brief by the Navajo Nation and abuse of discretion of the trial court in applying Navajo Nation evidentiary rules. (July 21, 2011).

8.  SC-CV-44-08

Gwendolene Begay v. Navajo Engineering & Construction Authority and the Navajo Nation. Opinion.  In this appeal of a district court's dismissal of a tort action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court affirms the dismissal on jurisdictional grounds and emphasizes that trial courts must first find jurisdiction before making substantive rulings.  (July 22, 2011).

9.  SC-CV-66-08

Gene Manning v. Francesca Abeita. Opinion.  In this appeal of a divorce action in which the husband objected to the judge using informal methods in deciding his divorce, the Court sets forth the premises under which informal methods are permissible under the Rules of Civil Procedure, and affirms in part, reverses in part, and remands on limited issues.  (August 1, 2011).

10.  SC-CV-07-09

In the Matter of the Guardianship of T.S.E.J. et al. Opinion.  In this matter in which a putative father appealed the family court's order for genetic testing and requirement that the parties reimburse the expenses of a guardian ad litem, the Court reverses the family court and provides a summary of the Navajo Nation paternity, custody and visitation law.  (August 17, 2011).

11.  SC-CV-06-10

John Doe BF v. Diocese of Gallup et al. Opinion.  In this appeal of a district court's order of dismissal in a personal injury action due to late filing, the Supreme Court has reversed the dismissal.  The case concerns allegations of child sex abuse on a Navajo teenager by a Catholic priest based on events that occurred almost twenty years ago. The district court did not find that the statutory conditions that would allow late filing were met.  However, the Supreme Court determined that the district court impermissibly required argument and witnesses at a status conference, and furthermore, applied the wrong standard.  The matter is remanded for further proceedings, including detailed findings on jurisdiction over the non-member defendants.  (September 9, 2011).

12.  SC-CV-34-08

Rosenfelt & Buffington v. Johnson, Opinion.  In this appeal of a Navajo Nation Labor Commission's finding that termination of an employee was not for just cause because each of numerous violations were not substantial, and additionally progressive discipline was not imposed even though k'e measures through meetings were held with the employee for more than eight months, the Court reverses, discusses k'e measures, and sets the standard for substantial misconduct in cases of repeated minor violations. (October 21, 2011).

13.  SC-CV-56-11

Thomas-Pittman v. Navajo Nation.  Opinion.  In this attempted filing of a pleading contesting a civil order of the Office of Hearings and Appeals in which the filer claimed indigency and did not pay the filing fee, the Court dismisses on the basis of improper filing.  The Court repeats that the fee is jurisdictional and may be waived only where required under the Navajo Nation Bill of Rights.  The Court provides a summary of circumstances in which the waiver is available, and cautions filers that their pleadings must conform to content requirements in appellate court rules.. (December 14, 2011).

14.  SC-CV-55-11

Bitsie v. Greyeyes, Opinion.  The Court grants habeas relief to a defendant who was verbally charged with an additional crime at his pre-trial conference, arrested, then denied bail at his arraignment later the same day.  While Navajo law allows bail to be heard at arraignment, the law requires specific findings on enumerated grounds by clear and convincing evidence.  No such findings were part of the record in this case.  Additionally, the Court stated that where the underlying charge does not specify incarceraton as a possible sentence, courts shall consider alternatives to detention as a first option. (December 29, 2011).

15.  SC-CV-41-09

In the Matter of Quiet Title to Livestock Grazing Permit No. 8-487 Formerly Held by Martha Francis, Opinion.  In this appeal of the Kayenta Family Court's dismissal of a quiet title action regarding a grazing permit due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Court reverses, stating that Navajo Nation Council resolution CO-59-03 did not establish the Office of Hearings and Appeals as the exclusive forum for resolving disputes concerning grazing permits and did not divest the family courts of their authority to hear and decide such matters as part of probate and quiet title actions. The Court stated that upon remand, the family court must look into whether the decedent  perfected a transfer of the permit during her lifetime or effected an oral will. Additionally, the Court addressed the 5-year statutory probate filing deadline and stated in a footnote that a late filing does not mean that a decedent’s estate may never be legally distributed. A decedent’s family may still seek distribution of the decedent’s estate through intestate administration after the statute of limitations has passed. (December 29, 2011).

 
2010 OPINIONS

1. 

SC-CV-40-07

Ruby D. Watson, Petitioner-Appellant v. Eddie Paul Watson, Respondent-Appellee.  Opinion.  In this matter concerning child support and alimony arrearages awarded in 1988, the Court held that the claims for both child support and alimony arrearages are barred by laches, and affirmed the decisions of the Family Court to deny Appellant's request that Appellee obtain life insurance to cover arrearages, and to reduce future spousal maintenance.  The parties are elderly and at the time of the award, their children had not been minors, but had been attending high school.  The Court discussed the evolution of Navajo Nation child support and alimony law.  The Court addressed Appellant's 13 year delay in seeking enforcement, the age of the children at the time of the award, property and possessions left for Appellant and the children as traditional law dictates, and Appellee's arrangements for Appellant to receive one-half of his retirement benefits. Discussing the Child Support Enforcement Act, the Court stated that the CSEA tolls the statute of limitations only from birth to the age of 18.  The Court addressed the concept of finality in cases of divorce, stating that Navajo traditional law teaches the principle that once a couple divorces, each must live their separate lives.  The Court also addressed traditional concepts of property and support in affirming the Family Court's decision to apply one-half the value of the JUA home toward arrearages.  Finally, the Court stated that the request to secure life insurance is a bilagaana way of making arrangements for paying a debt.  To demand such a remedy in the Diné perspective is Dine biz nfdizin, wishing ill-will or early death on an individual, and offensive to the values and custom of the Diné.  (December 14, 2009, recon. den. January 21, 2010). 

2. 

SC-CV-06-07

Shirley M. Leonard, Appellant v. Willis Begay, Jr., Appellee.  Opinion.  Appellant won a small claims judgment in the Chinle Court.  Having won an award, Appellant sought and was denied reconsideration to increase the award to include items not previously listed. In its opinion, the Supreme Court stated that the rule is clear that there is no right to an appeal of a small claims judgment except where "substantial justice has not been done."  Mere dissatisfaction with a judgment does not meet the requirement.    (January 26, 2010). 

3. 

SC-CV-50-07

In the Matter of a Certified Question From the Crownpoint Court and Concerning the Case of DD, a Minor.  Opinion.  The Court answers a certified question from the Crownpoint Court concerning two conflicting provisions of the Children's Code regarding when the Family Court's jurisdiction over a child terminates. The Court holds that 9 NNC 1055(C)(1) is superseded by 9 NNC 1156(H) due to its mandatory language, which states that "[w]hen a child reached the age of 18 years, all judgments affecting the child then in force automatically terminate."   (March 2, 2010). 

4. 

SC-CV-44-07

Milton J. Yazzie, Petitioner-Appellant v. Tooh Dineh Industries, Inc., Respondent-Appellee.  Opinion.  The Court issues an Opinion Denying Reconsideration in an appeal from a  decision of the Navajo Nation Labor Commission.  (April 6, 2010). 

5. 

SC-CV-52-09

Bridgette Grass, Petitioner-Appellee v. Chee Phillip Yazzie, Respondent-Appellant.  Opinion.  The Court remands a matter concerning the trial court's use and disclosure of in camera testimony of minor children in the modification of a child custody provision of a prior decree.  (May 12, 2010)

6. 

SC-CV-02-10

Office of the Navajo Nation President v. Navajo Nation Council (Shirley v. Morgan).  Opinion.  An appeal from the decision of the Window Rock District Court concerning the enactment of Resolution CO-41-09 which placed President Joe Shirley, Jr. on administrative leave on October 26, 2009.  The Court upholds the district court's declaration that the resolution is null and void, but on different grounds.  The Court further invalidates Resolution CJA-08-10 (enacting the Foundation of the Diné, Diné Law and Diné Government Act of 2009) and issues a clarifying opinion affirming that government power comes from the People.  On June 2, 2010, the Court made several non-substantive changes and re-issued the opinion with an Order of Correction.  (Corrected June 2, 2010, effective May 28, 2010; Order of Correction, June 2, 2010).

7. 

SC-CV-03-10

Nelson v. Initiative Committee to Reduce Navajo Nation Council and Dr. Joe Shirley.  Opinion.  An appeal from the decision from the Office of Hearing and Appeals concerning a voter's challenge to the Reduction in Council Initiative.  The Court upholds the dismissal of the Office of Hearings and Appeals.  The Court further issues a clarifying opinion in order to give finality to issues relating to the Initiative Election.  On June 2, 2010, the Court made two minor non-substantive corrections and re-issued the opinion with an Order of Correction.  (Corrected June 2, 2010, effective May 28, 2010; Order of Correction, June 2, 2010).

8. 

SC-CV-04-10

Shaw v. Shiprock District Court.  Opinion.  An application for a Writ of Prohibition or in the alternative, a Writ of Superintending Control filed against the Shiprock Family Court (SRFC) to prohibit the enforcement of a pro bono appointment.  The Court makes permanent the writ and vacates the SRFC's order of appointment and ORDERS the Office of Pro Bono Service shall require of the District Court Administrator to submit a copy of the indigency assessment made by the Office of Probation and Parole Service before the name of the next eligible counsel is provided to the court. (June 11, 2010)

9. 

SC-CV-19-10

Sandra Oliver v. Judy Apache.  Opinion.  An appeal of a small claims judgment.  The Court denied the appeal for failure to file a transcript and clarified that hearing such appeals is discretionary with the Court under Rule 20 of the Navajo Rules for Small Claims Proceedings, there is no right to an appeal of a small claims judgment except where "substantial justice has not been done."  (June 17, 2010)

10. 

SC-CV-26-10

Navajo Nation Dept of Justice, on behalf of the Commission of the Nahata'Dziil Chapter v. Arnold Begay.  Opinion.  A petition for a Writ of Mandamus filed directly to the Supreme Court by the central government to compel a local official to perform statutory duties.  The Court summarily dismissed the petition, clarifying that such a writ must first be sought in the lower courts.  (June 17, 2010)

11.

SC-CV-02-10

Office of the Navajo Nation President v. Navajo Nation Council (Shirley v. Morgan). Opinion and Order on Reconsideration.  The Court denies Appellants' Petition for Reconsideration.  However, in response to Appellants' assertion that the status of amendments impacting  governmental structure enacted since the Title II Amendments of 1989 is unclear, the Court provides clarification of the status of these amendments. (July 16, 2010).

12. 

SC-CV-37-10

Todacheene v Shirley; Shirley v. NEA .  Opinion.  An appeal of the decision of the Office of Hearings and Appeals.  This is a consolidated case. The Court affirms the decision of the Office of Hearing and Appeals that Dr. Joe Shirley, Jr., cannot run as a candidate for the Office of Navajo Nation President in the upcoming 2010 elections.  The Court also affirms the decision of the Navajo Nation Election Administration that 2 N.N.C §1002 (D) prohibits Presidential candidates from running for a third consecutive term.  A short order was issued immediately following oral argument on July 9, 2010.  The Court issued its formal opinion stating the reasons for the Court's decision on July 30, 2010.  On August 2, 2010, the Court issued an Order of Correction making several non-substantive typographical changes.  The Opinion published conforms to the Court's correction order. (July 30, 2010, corrected August 2, 2010, effective July 9, 2010).

13. 

SC-CV-07-10

EXC, et al v. Kayenta District Court and Concerning Jensen, et al Opinion Denying Writ of Prohibition. The Court denies Petitioners' application for a writ of prohibition preventing the Kayenta District Court from hearing a negligence claim filed by Navajo family members against a non-member individual and non-member business entities conducting a tour business on the Navajo Nation.  The claim arose from an accident on a highway outside Kayenta in which a Navajo father and fetus were killed (September 15, 2010).

14. 

SC-CV-38-10

In the Matter of A.M.K.  Opinion.  In a custody matter concerning a child with a non-Indian Canadian father and a deceased Navajo mother, the Court reverses the Chinle Family Court's Rule 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim) dismissal of a guardianship petition without a hearing eleven months after it was filed.  The Court repeated that Navajo common law on the family extends beyond the nuclear family to the child's grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and clan relationships and set forth the court's affirmative duty under the best interest of the child standard to ensure that a child is supported, safe, and has meaningful contact with siblings, relatives, culture, and people. (October 8, 2010)

15. 

SC-CV-03-10

Nelson v. Initiative Committee to Reduce Navajo Nation Council. Order and Opinion Denying Jurisdictional Challenge.  In the attorney fee phase of this case concerning the referendum vote to reduce the Council, the Court disposes of preliminary matters in this decision.  Inter alia, the Court clarifies that delegates filing as amici are actually real parties in interest representing the Navajo Nation Council, and holds that the Court has jurisdiction to address post-review issues related to attorney fees that raise questions of misappropriations out of the public treasury (October 18, 2010).

16. 

SC-CV-58-10

In the Matter of Frank Seanez.  Opinion.  In this disciplinary action concerning professional conduct of a Navajo Nation Bar Association member and Navajo Nation governmental employee, sua sponte by the Court, the Court ordered the disbarment of the Chief Legislative Counsel due to gross misconduct.  (October 22, 2010).

17. 

SC-CV-59-10

Office of the President and Vice-President et al v. Navajo Nation Board of Election Supervisors et al.Opinion In this original action for an extraordinary writ filed by the President "to prevent the imminent and substantial harm caused by NBOES' placement of an invalid referendum measure on the Nov. 2, 2010 general election" (regarding the election of judges), the Court dismisses the action because of an action for similar relief still pending in the Window Rock District Court.  However, the Court issues a writ of mandamus sua sponte under SC-CV-61-10 ordering the trial court to expedite a hearing on the merits and issue a decision prior to the elections.  (October 25, 2010).

18. 

SC-CV-25-10

Ferlin Clark v. Diné College.  Opinion.  In this appeal of a Labor Commission order for preliminary injunction, the Court addressing changed circumstances that occurred during the appeal finds that Clark does not have an existing employment contract with the College.  Addressing a jurisdictional challenge, the Court further finds that the reduction of the College Board of Regents to below quorum by the Government Services Committee in the period when this appeal was filed was prohibited by 10 NNC 2003(A).  (October 27, 2010).

19. 

SC-CV-52-10

Jones et al v. Curley et al.  Opinion.  In this appeal from a decision of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, the Court grants Appellees' motion to dismiss due to Appellants' untimely notice that a transcript was not necessary because the appeal would be on strictly legal grounds.  (November 8, 2010).

20. 

SC-CV-58-10

In the Matter of Frank Seanez.  Opinion and Order on Reconsideration.  In this reconsideration of disbarment of the Chief Legislative Counsel, the Court affirms its finding of gross misconduct.  However, for reasons of long-term intra-governmental harmony, the Court converts disbarment to suspension with strict conditions.  The Court further noted that there is a need for Navajo Nation practitioners to be taught the ethics and responsibilities of government lawyers in the public trust. (November 24, 2010).

21. 

SC-CV-25-10

Ferlin Clark v. Diné College. Opinion and Order on Reconsideration.  The Court denies Clark's petition for reconsideration and affirms its ruling that Clark's employment contract as President of Dine College had expired and was not renewed.  The Court further addresses issues of law raised regarding the significance of the holding of sacred items on an employment contract and regarding what authority a probationary justice retains pending presidential action when the Judiciary Committee has recommended against permanent appointment(December 3, 2010).  

22. 

SC-CV-67-10

Chee v. Navajo Election Administration et al. Opinion.  This is an appeal filed by the Navajo Election Administration contesting the Office of Hearing and Appeals invalidation of the general election results at Birdsprings and Tolani Lake Chapters, in which the incumbent for Council Delegate Leonard Chee lost to challenger Walter Phelps in the newly created precinct including the above chaptersThe Court reverses the OHA's decision.  (December 28, 2010).  

   

 

2009 OPINIONS

1. 

SC-CV-12-08

Gene Salt v. Sally Martinez (Jan. 21, 2009)

2. 

SC-CV-52-07

Winifred Hall f/k/a Winifred Watson v. Roy Watson (Feb. 24, 2009); Amending Opinion (April 22, 2009)

3. 

SC-CV-52-08

Vincent Johnny v. Delores Greyeyes (Feb. 27, 2009)

4. 

SC-CV-12-08

Gene Salt v. Sally Martinez (March 5, 2009)

5. 

SC-CV-09-09

Dail Cody v. Delores Greyeyes  (March 11, 2009)

6. 

SC-CV-51-06

Jimmy and Martina Begay v. Lewis and Lorraine King  (April 13, 2009)

7. 

SC-CV-12-06

John Goldtooth v. Naa Tsis'Aan Community School Inc.  (April 16, 2009)

8. 

SC-CV-24-09

In the Matter of the Navajo Nation Election Administration's Determination of Insufficiency Regarding Two Initiative Petitions Filed by Navajo Nation President Dr. Joe Shirley, Jr., Dr. Joe Shirley Jr. President v. Office of Hearing and Appeals; Initiative Petition Committee, Real Party in Interest  (June 22, 2009)

9. 

SC-CV-49-08

In the Matter of the Estate of Nat D. Benally, Decedent, Lucinda Henry, Administratrix v. Donald Kee, Ida Mae Sandoval, and Daniel Kee (June 25, 2009)

10. 

SC-CV-20-09

Rodriguez A. Wood v. Window Rock District Court, the Navajo Nation, Real Party in Interest (July 1, 2009)

11.

SC-CV-28-09

In the Matter of the Navajo Nation Election Administration's Determination of lnsufficiency Regarding Two Initiative Petitions Filed by Navajo Nation President Dr. Joe Shirley, Jr., The Navajo Election Administration, Respondent-Appellant v. Dr. Joe Shirley, Jr., Designated Representative For the Initiative Petition Committee, Petitioner-Appellee (July 30, 2009).  The Navajo Election Administration appealed a final decision of the Office of Hearings and Appeals that concluded initiative petitions filed by the Initiative Petition Committee -- to reduce the Navajo Nation Council from 88 to 24 members and whether to give the President line item veto authority -- were sufficient.  The Supreme Court affirms the lower administrative agency's determination of sufficiency. (July 30, 2009); recon. den., Sept 2, 2009.  See also July 7, 2009 Order for Expedited Review.

12.

SC-CV-27-09

Veronica Wauneka, v. Navajo Department of Law Enforcement. The Court has reconsidered its Order of Dismissal, remarking on the need to clarify Rule 9(a)(2) of the Navajo Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure (NRCAP), and holds that from here on, parties have the affirmative duty to notify the Supreme Court and the other parties in a case that it has filed for an extension in the lower tribunal and whether an extension has been granted. (Aug 12, 2009).

13.

SC-CV-34-06

Larry Tsosie, v. Central Consolidated School District, No. 22. Taking judicial notice that a system of separate term contracts for administrators and teachers has been in use for many years and has been applied by public schools on the Navajo Nation long before the enactment of the NPEA, the Court affirms the NNLC's dismissal of the claim on the grounds that the non-renewal of a contract that expired on its own terms is not "adverse action" and the employer is not required to show "just cause" in its decision not to renew the contract. (Aug 12, 2009).

14.

SC-CR-01-09

Navajo Nation v. Aaron John.  The Court issued an Order Denying Motion Opposing the Appeal of a Window Rock District Court decision, holding that there are two pre-requisites for appeal: (1) the notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the judgment; and (2) the five-day ruling period for a district court judge to act on a motion for reconsideration must have expired. (October 30, 2009)

15.

SC-CV-23-07

Iris Shirley Begaye v. Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, Air and Toxics Dept., a matter regarding alleged violations of the Navajo Nation Personnel Policies Manual.  The Court reversed dismissal of the matter below by OHA.  The Court concluded that an amended notice of termination issued 13 days after the initial notice violated Begaye's rights, and addressed certain mandates of the Personnel manual, including disciplinary action for similar violations.  (Nov 30, 2009)

16.

SC-CV-30-07

Bernice Smith v. Michael Kasper,  a domestic abuse matter involving a child,where a DAPO was issued and custody assigned to one parent for five years.  Finding that a custody assignment of five years amounts to a permanent change of custody requiring a higher burden of proof than a temporary custody assignment pursuant to a DAPO that is issued for protection purposes, the Court affirmed issuance of the DAPO but remanded the matter to the Dilkon Family Court for, inter alia, amendment to the custody assignment portion of the DAPO.  (December 2, 2009)


2008 OPINIONS
1.  SC-CV-04-08 Willie Edward Miles v. Chinle Family Court and Concerning Bertha James Miles, Real Party in Interest
2.  SC-CV-03-08 In the Matter of N.B., a Minor v. Delores Greyeyes
3.  SC-CV-09-08 Seperina Dawes v. Wendell Eriacho
4.  SC-CV-36-06 Harvey & Susan Gishie v. Eulah Morris, et al
5.  SC-CV-41-08 In the Matter of Two Initiative Petitions Filed by Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., corrected July 22, 2008, effective July 18, 2008.
6.  SC-CV-46-05 Green Tree Servicing LLC v. Georgiana N. Duncan
7.  SC-CV-37-08 Jovita Baldwin v. Chinle Family Court
8.  SC-CV-40-08 Marcella Begay v. Shannette Alonzo
9.  SC-CV-19-07 Johnny Charley and Fannie Looking Glass v. Irene Benally, et al
10.  SC-CV-33-07 Ford Motor Company v. Kayenta District Court and Concerning Joe and Mary Todecheene, Real Parties in Interest
2007 OPINIONS
1. 

SC-CV-63-06

Nina Zuni v. Chinle Family Court and concerning the Navajo Nation
2. SC-CV-55-05 Dan Bradley v. Lake Powell Medical Center
3. SC-CV-48-05 Bernice Casaus v. Dine College as revised per March 17, 2007 Order of Correction
4. SC-CV-09-07 In the Matter of M.G., a Minor v. Delores Greyeyes; recon. den. May 17, 2007
5. SC-CV-44-06 Navajo Transport Services, Inc., et al v. Charles Schroeder, et al
6. SC-CV-30-06 Marlene Thomas v. Chinle Chapter, Division of Community Development
7. SC-CV-32-05
(Corrected)
Sherwood “Woody” Moore v. BHP Billiton
8. SC-CV-01-07 In the Matter of the Grievance of Laverne Wagner and Concerning Leonard Tsosie
9. SC-CV-39-04 Sista Riggs v. Estate of Tom Attakai
10.

SC-CV-37-05

SC-CV-42-05

In the Matter of the Termination of Alfred Yazzie and Alfred Barney, et al, v. Division of Community Development, Local Governance Support Center
11. SC-CV-16-06 Kevin Yazzie v. Navajo Sanitation
12. SC-CV-09-06 Richard Wirtz, Jr. v. Patricia A. Black
13. SC-CV-47-06 Frederica J. Martinez v. Sage Memorial Hospital, Richie Nez
14.

SC-CV-25-06

SC-CV-26-06

Leonard Thinn v. Navajo Generating Station et al
15.

SC-CV-12-07

Jackie Johnson and Heather Nicholl v. Tuba City District Court and concerning Louise Yellowman, Real Party in Interest
16.

SC-CV-53-06
SC-CV-54-06

Cedar Unified School District v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission and Concerning Helena Hasgood, et al, Real Parties in Interest; Red Mesa School District v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission and Concerning Sara Yellowhair, Real Party in Interest
17.

SC-CV-39-07

In the Matter of L.R., a Minor v. Delores Greyes
18.

SC-CV-21-07

Bobby Bennett Sr., et al v. Joe Shirley Jr., et al
19.

SC-CV-62-06

Marilyn Joe, individually and as mother and natural guardian of Mario Nelson, Jr., as surviving child and heir at law of Mario Nelson, Sr., deceased v. Roy Black, et al
20.

SC-CV-20-06

Ernest Tso v. Navajo Housing Authority (** NOTE: Tso was overruled by NHA v Johns as to its conclusion that the relevant statutory amendments changed the status of NHA’s immunity in any substantive way).
2006 OPINIONS
1. 

SC-CV-63-05

Budget and Finance Committee of the Navajo Nation Council v. Navajo Nation Office of Hearings and Appeals and concerning Johnny Livingston and Edward Carlisle, Real Parties in Interest
2.

SC-CV-11-05

Ronald Hood v. Navajo Nation Department of Headstart, Lolita Q. Ellsworth
3.

SC-CR-06-05

Navajo Nation v. Ryan Badonie
4.

SC-CV-31-06

John A. Milligan v. Navajo Tribal Utility Authority
5.

SC-CV-04-06

Myron Seaton v. Delores Greyeyes
6.

SC-CV-53-05

Navajo Housing Authority, Tohatchi Housing Management Office v. Lewis and Berdie Clark
7.

SC-CV-65-05

Dorothy Begay v. Philbert Begay
8.

SC-CV-40-05

In the Matter of the Estate of Amy Kindle
9.

SC-CV-11-06

In the Matter of the Recall Petition Challenge by Anderson H. Morgan, Sr.
10.

SC-CV-50-90;
SC-CV-62-00

Lita Manygoats v. Cameron Trading Post
11.

SC-CV-21-06

Ann Thompson v. Larry Kee Yazzie
12.

SC-CV-45-05

In the Matter of the Marriage of Lilirae Smith and Leonard C. Begay, Sr.
13.

SC-CR-04-05

Navajo Nation v. James Kelly
14.

SC-CV-50-05

Melinda Perry v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission
15.

SC-CV-32-06

In the Matter of the Appeal of Vern Lee
16.

SC-CV-20-06

Ernest Tso v. Navajo Housing Authority, et al.
17.

SC-CV-41-05

Harrison Toledo v. Basha's Diné Market
18.

SC-CV-22-06

Navajo Nation Department of Child Support Enforcement v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission, and concerning Evangeline Logg
19. SC-CV-67-05 Milton J. Yazzie v. Tooh Dineh Industries
20. SC-CV-29-05 Bobby Rico v. Western Technologies

Opinions prior to 2006 are not available on this website. 

Opinions from 1969 - 2005 may be found in Volumes 1-8 of the Navajo Nation Reporter
All opinions are further available on VersusLaw and Westlaw subscription services.