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Candidate named to fill open seat on Navajo Nation Supreme Court

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A new bill names a candidate to fill the vacant associate justice seat on the three-member Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

If approved, Tina Tsinigine would occupy a seat that has been open since October 2010.

Tsinigine is the judge for the Kayenta Judicial District in Kayenta, Arizona.

She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2007 and is a licensed member of the State Bar of Arizona and a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association.

Prior to serving on the bench in Kayenta, Tsinigine was the staff attorney for nine years at the Tuba City Judicial District in Tuba City, Arizona.

The Navajo Nation Council confirmed in October 2017 for Tsinigine to serve a two-year probationary period as the judge in Kayenta.

Tina Tsinigine

She was under review by the Law and Order Committee on Dec. 3 as part of the process for permanent appointment when the Navajo Nation Bar Association told committee members that its performance commentary for her second year of service was unavailable due to the holiday season, according to a Dec. 4 press release from the Office of the Speaker.

The committee decided to recess the hearing until Feb. 3 for the bar association to complete its process, the release states.

Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton, who serves as chairwoman for the committee, said on Jan. 14 that she did not know that Tsinigine applied for the associate justice position.

As for resuming the hearing for Tsinigine's service in the Kayenta court, Charles-Newton said the committee is seeking advice from the Office of Legislative Counsel about whether to proceed with the evaluation.

"So, at this point, we don’t know," Charles-Newton said. She added that committee members have not discussed the matter yet.

Delegate Edmund Yazzie, who is a member of the Law and Order Committee, is sponsoring the legislation to seat Tsinigine.

The bill was posted on the tribal council website on Jan. 13. It is assigned to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and the council, where final authority rests.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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Tina Tsinigine takes the oath of office administered by then acting Navajo Nation Chief Justice Thomas Holgate after she was confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council to serve as a probationary judge on Oct. 18, 2017.