Council Delegate pushes for judicial complex funding

WASHINGTON -- Navajo Nation Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay (Many Farms/Round Rock) was in Washington meeting with several lawmakers regarding support for a new multi-million dollar Supreme Court complex in Window Rock.

The new complex would create a new home for the Navajo's judicial branch currently located in several deteriorating metal sheds and trailers.

Recently the space crunch in the branch was brought to light as a storage trailer literally burst at the seams when an outside wall failed causing several boxes of case files and testimony to fall out into the elements.

"I wanted this visit to emphasize we need to house the judicial branch in a facility that will further create an effective legal system," said Council Delegate Begay.

"We've managed so far but we will face more diminishing returns trying to administer justice in leaky and cramped conditions," Begay said.

An estimated $13 million is needed to build the offices, libraries, and courtrooms needed to seat the three Navajo Supreme Court Justices.

The initial site location and architectural plans have already been completed.

Coordinated by the Navajo Nation Washington Office, Begay visited several Congressional offices including those on the Senate Appropriations Committee including Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.). Additional visits were scheduled with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Congressmen Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.-1), and Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.-1) among others. In total, 10 lawmakers or their staffs were visited.

"We are very pleased by the support for the project expressed by the members we visited. We look forward to working with them on finding sources for construction of the facilities," said Javier Ramos, a NNWO legislative associate.

(Michael Wero is Legislative Associate & Communications Specialist for the Navajo Nation Washington Office.)

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