Navajo Nation Peacemaking Program returns Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize's case to tribal court

Noel Lyn Smith
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Peacemaking Program has returned Council Speaker Johnny Naize's case to Window Rock District Court in Window Rock, Ariz.

Last month, Naize filed a request through his attorney to have the case about his paid administrative leave referred to the Window Rock District Peacemaking Program. Window Rock District Court Judge Carol Perry granted the request on May 7.

Perry's order stated peacemaking is the Diné traditional method of dispute resolution, and it promotes harmony consistent with Navajo laws and Diné bi beenaz'cannii, which embodies traditional, customary, natural and common laws.

The peacemaking program is voluntary and allows parties the opportunity to talk things out and to settle disputes informally outside of court.

According to a press release from the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch, the court set a May 31 deadline to receive notice from the peacemaking program on the outcome of the referral.

On May 30, the traditional program specialist reported five of the 13 respondents in the case made contact with the program, and two agreed to peacemaking, according to the press release.

Under the program's plan of operation, all participation is consensual, including cases referred by the courts.

"The traditional program specialist assigned to the case has indicated that without consensual and complete participation among the individuals involved, the case must be referred back to the WRDC where an adjudicatory decision may be made," the press release states.

In April, 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.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.