To'hajiilee celebrates new courtroom additions
TO'HAJIILEE, N.M. - With the ribbon cuttings Thursday at the To'hajiilee District Court house, Judge William J.J. Platero declared new offices officially open for business.
The Tohajiilee District Court held a blessing and dedication ceremony for additions to its facilities, including a probation office and judge's chambers. The judge's chambers was dedicated to the elderly and youth and the probation office was dedicated to the fight against drunk driving.
Judge Platero said that drinking and driving is not the Navajo way and that the court will be looking to work with the state of New Mexico in the fight against DUI.
The courtroom was dedicated to the community of Tohajiilee. The courtroom has been open but a dedication was never held until Nov. 18, Judge Platero said.
Various leaders cut the ribbons and community member Jerry Johns conducted the blessing.
Navajo Nation and state leaders, district court staff and community members joined in the celebration, including Chief Justice Herb Yazzie, Tohajiilee Navajo Nation Council Delegate Lawrence Platero, and Judiciary Committee members Kee Allen Begay, Lena Manheimer, Ernest Yazzie Jr., and Leonard Tsosie.
In his remarks, Delegate Platero recalled that the district court had previously been housed in a trailer. "Now look at the facility we have. It's one of the nicer facilities across the Navajo Nation that we are able to enjoy," he said.
Dan Moquin, staff attorney for the Alamo/To'hajiilee Judicial District, said that this project was one of his first assignments when he was hired.
The state nearly took funding back from the project in 2009, but the district court staff and Navajo Nation leadership were able to save it, he said.
Judge Platero said that the district court will now be able to build its technological infrastructure to provide services for the community. He also said one of the district court's plans is to start holding meetings with the elderly to update them on the laws.
"We're no longer going to be a closed door," Judge Platero said. "This building is just one example of the good things that are happening."
Judge Platero handed out certificates of appreciation to those whom were involved in the dedication ceremony and those whom were instrumental in completing the project. A special plaque was given to Larry Holman of To'hajiilee Community School for the school's partnership with the To'hajiilee court.
The additions to the facility cost approximately $217,000 and the project was funded by the Navajo Nation and the state of New Mexico. The state contributed $34,000 and the Navajo Nation authorized up to $200,000 for the additions.