Case filed by Navajo Nation Speaker Johnny Naize against council delegates heads to Peacemaking Program
Farmington — Window Rock District Court Judge Carol Perry has referred the case filed by Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize to the tribal Peacemaking Program.
Perry issued her order on Wednesday after receiving a letter from Naize requesting the case transfer to peacemaking.
Naize submitted the letter through his attorney, Troy Eid, on Monday to "make a good faith effort to talk out our differences in accordance with Navajo tradition."
Last month, Naize filed a request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against 12 delegates and one legislative branch employee.
He took the action after the 12 delegates approved placing him on paid administrative leave, a move that happened after Naize was charged last year with bribery and conspiracy for allegedly misusing discretionary funds intended to help needy tribal members.
Naize considers the delegates' actions unlawful, improper and invalid, according to the court documents.
Eid could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The order Perry issued states peacemaking is the Diné traditional method of dispute resolution, and it promotes harmony consistent with Navajo laws and Diné bi beehaz'áannii.
Diné bi beehaz'áannii embodies traditional, customary, natural and common laws. Together, these laws preserve, protect and enhance the inherent rights, beliefs, practices and freedoms of the Navajo people.
"The court also agrees that a restoration of healthy relationships is in the best interest of our government and the people," according to the court order.
The order does not list a date or time for the delegates to meet in the Window Rock District Court Peacemaking Program in Window Rock, Ariz. But the order states officials with the program will contact the tribal lawmakers regarding their desire to participate or "other efforts deemed appropriate by the program."
According to Navajo law, the purpose of the Peacemaking Program is to promote a non-adversarial forum for solving disputes when parties agree or are referred to the program. It is intended to promote healing and reestablish harmony among the participating parties.
The court order also mentions that during the hearing in April on the preliminary injunction, legal counsel for both parties expressed a desire to pursue the issue in a non-legal forum.
Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates said in a statement issued Wednesday that he respects the court's action to refer the case to the Peacemaking Program.
"This action provides council with guidance and direction to consider," Bates said.
He added the Legislative Branch and the council continue to function and carry out the duties and responsibilities of the government.