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FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Supreme Court has a new acting chief justice.

The Navajo Nation Council's Law and Order Committee has designated Allen Sloan, the tribe's longest serving district court judge, as the acting chief justice.

The committee approved the bill containing Sloan's designation in a vote of 2-0 during a July 27 regular meeting in Tolani Lake Chapter in Arizona.

The five-member committee had final authority on the bill, which received six public comments supporting its passage. Committee chairman Edmund Yazzie certified the legislation.

Judicial branch spokeswoman Karen Francis said in an email Friday that Sloan was unavailable for an interview.

Sloan, 57, started his service July 27. He arrived to the high court after serving as a district court judge in the Tuba City District Court in Arizona.

He is originally from Coalmine Canyon, Ariz., and has served as a district court judge since 1989.

He earned an associate degree from Navajo Community College, which later became Diné College, and became a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association in December 1981, according to the judicial branch.

Sloan will fill the vacancy left by Herb Yazzie, who retired May 15.

Sloan's service as acting chief justice will continue until the council confirms a chief justice in accordance with the process outlined in tribal law, according to the committee's resolution.

Prior to Sloan's selection, Yazzie issued an administrative order May 12 that designated Associate Justice Eleanor Shirley as acting chief justice.

According to the committee's resolution, the council in 1985 eliminated the chief justice's authority to designate an acting chief justice when a vacancy arises.

It also explained that tribal law authorizes the chief justice to designate in writing an associate justice to act as chief justice whenever the chief justice is absent from the Navajo Nation or is on vacation, ill or otherwise unable to perform the duties of the office.

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

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