Winslow’s Justice Court is in Precinct 2 and overseen by Judge B. J. Little. The Navajo-Hopi Observer was able to spend time with Judge Little inquiring about the court’s methods and operation. The following are Little’s observations about justice in Winslow.
NHO: What has surprised you the most about this court operation?
Judge: What has really surprised me is the high number of cases that go through this small court. The court calendar is full here in Winslow.
NHO: What would be one thing you learned about being a judge here in Winslow which was surprising?
Judge: I have learned how important it is to partner with local providers of social services and counseling services to address the long term changes needed for successful rehabilitation of offenders.
Repeated incarcerations for repeat offenders, especially alcohol related offences, is not a solution to the addictive behavior. Here we work to provide coordination of care for our offenders. Eighty to 90 percent of our clients’ involvement in various misdemeanor crime is directly related to alcohol abuse. We are very fortunate to have our providers who appear monthly here in court with their individuals in need of help where we have a public forum discussing the offender’s progress or lack of.
NHO: Are repeat offenders a problem?
Judge: It’s a big problem. Trespass, theft and public intoxication are many of the repeat offences. But what we do is continually work to counsel and educate and hope that some time the information we provide will “click” and change will occur. But in the monthly public review with the provider, the offender begins to see the counselor is an advocate rather than a disciplinarian.
NHO: How many years have you lived in Winslow?
Judge: Twenty-four years. I grew up in Holbrook. Almost my whole life has been in northeastern Arizona.
NHO: What was your role with the Winslow High School Football?
Judge: Yes I was their Defensive Coordinator for 18 years and Head Football coach for five more years.