Navajo Nation acting chief justice to retire

Allen Sloan cites health concerns in making decision to step down

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
  • Allen Sloan has been the acting chief justice since July 27, 2015.
  • Sloan, a native of Coalmine Canyon, Ariz., has worked for the Judicial Branch for 28 years.
  • Associate Justice Eleanor Shirley is now the only permanent member of the high court.
Allen Sloan


FARMINGTON — The acting chief justice for the Navajo Nation has announced his intention to retire at the end of the month.

Allen Sloan has held the position since July 27, 2015, and the announcement was made today in a press release from the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch.

In a telephone interview today, Sloan said health concerns prompted his retirement.

As chief justice, Sloan presided over cases appealed to the high court and managed the judicial Branch, including formulating the branch's budget, setting and implementing policies and overseeing operations.

"It's been quite interesting and very challenging. …I've enjoyed every step of the way," he said.

Sloan added he talked about his decision to retire on July 31 in private conversations with tribal President Russell Begaye, Speaker LoRenzo Bates and members of the Law and Order Committee.

Sloan, who is originally from Coalmine Canyon, Ariz., has worked for 28 years with the branch.

He said he was in his 30s when he decided to work in the tribal court system, starting as a court advocate, then becoming a district court judge for 26 years in Window Rock and in Tuba City, both in Arizona.

Judicial Branch spokeswoman Karen Francis said the branch is grateful for Sloan's dedication and service.

Francis said as chief justice, Sloan worked to establish uniform fines and fees for traffic violations, as well as initiate the acceptance of online payments for traffic fines in the Kayenta District Court.

Sloan's retirement leaves Associate Justice Eleanor Shirley as the only permanent member of the high court.

In June, the Law and Order Committee approved legislation that named three candidates for President Begaye to consider for chief justice.

Begaye appointed JoAnn B. Jayne to the high court on July 11, according to the president's office.

Mihio Manus, spokesman for the president's office, said in an email today that Jayne's appointment is subject to final confirmation by the tribal council, and she will not start her service until then.

A bill to confirm Jayne as chief justice had not been introduced as of today.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

About Navajo courts

The tribal court system was established on April 1, 1959, with trial courts.

It now operates as a two-level court system with trial courts and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, which is the appellate court.

The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and two associate justices.

There are 11 district courts that handle civil and criminal cases. Each court has at least one judge presiding over cases.

Together, the courts handle more than 50,000 cases each year.

In addition to the courts, there is a peacemaking program that uses traditional methods and Navajo fundamental law to resolve certain matters.

Source: Navajo Nation Judicial Branch website,