Bill seeks to appoint Tuba City District Court judge as acting chief justice

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A new bill is requesting the appointment of Tuba City District Court Judge Allen Sloan as acting chief justice of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

Sloan, 57, has been a district court judge for 26 years and is the longest-serving judge currently on the bench, according to the judicial branch.

He is originally from Coalmine Canyon, Ariz. and earned an associate of applied science degree from Navajo Community College, which later became Diné College.

Sloan became a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association in December 1981 and practiced law with the Ruzow and Sloan Law Firm for eight years, according to the branch.

Delegate Otto Tso is sponsoring the legislation, which was posted to the Navajo Nation Council's website on Wednesday.

If the bill is passed by the Law and Order Committee, which has final authority, Sloan would fill the vacancy left by Herb Yazzie, who retired on May 15.

Yazzie issued an administrative order on May 12 that designated Associate Justice Eleanor Shirley as acting chief justice until a successor is appointed and confirmed, according to the legislation.

The bill further explains that in 1985, the council eliminated the chief justice's authority to designate an acting chief justice when a vacancy exists.

The chief justice is authorized to designate in writing an associate justice to act as chief justice whenever the chief justice is absent from the Navajo Nation, is on vacation, ill or otherwise unable to perform the duties of the office, according to tribal law.

The legislation mentions this section of tribal law was put into practice in October 2004 when then-Chief Justice Claudeen Bates Arthur designated then-Associate Justice Lorene B. Ferguson as acting chief justice.

Arthur issued the designation due to illness. She died in November 2004, which created a vacancy for the chief justice seat.

Ferguson's designation as acting chief justice was later reaffirmed by the then-Judiciary Committee. She remained acting chief justice until Yazzie was confirmed as the chief justice by the council in April 2005.

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.