Navajo Supreme Court orders Seanez disbarment

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The Navajo Nation Supreme Court reinstated the permanent disbarment of Frank Seanez after a hearing on the Second Order to Show Cause held on Jan. 20.

Seanez was represented by Levon Henry, who argued on his behalf.

The court had previously found gross misconduct on Oct. 22, 2010. Upon reconsideration, the Court had converted Seanez's disbarment to a 49-month suspension on Nov. 24, 2010, for reasons of compassion and restoration.

The hearing was called after the chief prosecutor filed a notice with the court on Jan. 7, stating that Seanez continues to receive his full salary and continues to practice law, signing documents as "Chief Legislative Counsel."

Attorneys in the Office of Legislative Counsel had also informed the court that they had duly advised the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council that Seanez should not be holding himself forth as the lawyer for the Council in documents, nor should he continue in the position of the top lawyer for the legislative branch.

In a response filed with the Supreme Court, Seanez stated that he disagreed with the lawyers in his office, that he would not resign, and that he can continue to occupy the office until the Navajo Nation Council removes him. He further responded that the Navajo Nation Code does not expressly require that the Chief Legislative Counsel have a Navajo bar license.

The court informed him that 7 N.N.C. § 606 requires that the Chief Legislative Counsel must have a Navajo bar license and be in good standing with the Navajo Nation Bar Association.

The court issued its ruling verbally following a one and a half hour hearing and said that any additional sanctions will be addressed in its written opinion, which will be forthcoming.

Seven N.N.C. § 606 (C) states: "Persons conducting the unauthorized practice of law shall be subject to civil penalties, including triple the amount of all legal fees, costs, and other funds paid to them by persons to whom they have purported to provide legal representation or other legal services, a civil fine in the amount of five hundred dollars ($500) per occurrence, and, if not a member of the Navajo Nation, will be subject to exclusion from the Navajo Nation."

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