WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - On July 8, the Law and Order Committee of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council voted 3-0 to rescind a resolution of the 21st Navajo Nation Council's Judiciary Committee that recommended denying permanent appointment of Eleanor Shirley as an Associate Justice of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.
The repeal of this resolution opens the door for the Law and Order Committee to make a decision if it wants to recommend Shirley for permanent appointment. The Law and Order Committee is now the legislative oversight committee for the Judicial Branch after Title 2 amendments reorganizing the Council and its committees went into effect earlier this year.
The evaluation for Associate Justice Shirley has already been conducted pursuant to 7 N.N.C. § 355 and 357, the Judicial Branch of the Navajo Nation Personnel Rules for Judges and Justices, and the Hearing Rules of the Judiciary Committee of the Navajo Nation Council.
Justice Shirley was confirmed a probationary associate justice of the Navajo Nation on July 24, 2008, by the Navajo Nation Council. Her public hearing was held on October 12, 2010, at which time the majority of comments and reviews were favorable, including a recommendation for permanent appointment by Chief Justice Herb Yazzie. She received two favorable evaluations from a Judicial Performance Review Team in 2009 and 2010, both of which were submitted in compliance with the Hearing Rules of the Judiciary Committee.
In accordance with 7 N.N.C. § 355, an associate justice remains on probationary status for two years after confirmation by the Council as a probationary justice and is subject to evaluation by the standing committee of the Council after the probationary term is completed. The committee then sets a hearing date, notifies the public of the hearing date and invites public testimony. The Navajo Nation Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Committee submits the NNBA's most current evaluation and sends a representative to the hearing.
The Chief Justice also issues a performance evaluation and recommendation regarding permanent appointment. All evaluation memoranda and/or reports by the Judicial Performance Review Team on the judge or justice being evaluated are submitted. After the evaluation, the standing committee determines if the probationary performance was satisfactory or unsatisfactory and adopts a resolution on its recommendation to forward to the President of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation Council decides on permanent confirmation of appointments by the President.
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