Removal of Current Appellate Justices

Below, you will find highlights of the issues the Isleta Tribal Council discussed during their meeting on February 26, 2013. All Council members were present for this meeting except for Joseph “Cougar” Lucero.  Mr. Lucero resigned from the Council on February 19, 2013. Governor Eddie Paul Torres and both of his Lieutenants were also present.

Appointment of Joseph “Cougar” Lucero as Chief Judge

To read about this topic, go to the following post: Joseph “Cougar” Lucero’s Appointment Questionable.

Request for Acceptance as a Tribal Member

Lorenzo Keryte, a tribal member, came before the Isleta Tribal Council along with his son and daughter to request that the Council accept his wife as a member of the Pueblo.  His wife is a member of Santa Ana Pueblo. The Isleta Tribal Constitution allows the Council to adopt and/or naturalize persons into the Pueblo as tribal members as long as the person has one-half (½) Indian-blood.  The Council did not make any decision on whether to approve or deny the request.  Instead, the Council asked the Keryte family to submit a letter to the Council specifying what they are requesting from the Council.

Isleta Appellate Court

Previously, the Isleta Tribal Council selected Ken Reid to serve as a Justice on the Isleta Appellate Court.  Council member Barbara Sanchez nominated Reid. Mr. Ried, however, sent a letter to the Council requesting that the Council allow him 60 to 90 days to finalize his work on cases that he has pending before the Isleta Tribal Courts. According to Mr. Reid’s letter, Judge Aaron Choneska would not allow Reid to withdraw as a Tribal Advocate for clients that Reid is representing before the court.  After discussion, Council member Barbara Sanchez made a motion retracting the Council’s appointment of Mr. Reid to the Appellate Court.  The vote was 11 in favor 0 opposed and 0 abstaining. Juan Rey Abeita then made a motion to appoint Samuel Abeita to serve as a Justice on the Isleta Appellate Court.  The vote carried with 7 voting in favor, 3 opposing and 0 abstaining.

Removal of Current Appellate Justices

The Council also discussed whether to remove one or all of the current Justices serving on the Isleta Appellate Court.  The Council is concerned that the Appellate Court is not hearing cases fast enough.  Apparently, several cases have been pending appeal for several years. Some Council members want to remove all of the Justices while others only want to remove one or two of the current Justices.  The Council is also considering whether to use the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals (SWITCA) as the Appellate Court for the Pueblo.  SWITCA is a program offered by the American Indian Law Center, which provides an appellate court for tribes. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funds SWITCA.  The Council also discussed the possibility of having the Appellate Justices serve on a full time basis. The Council did not make any final decisions concerning the Isleta Appellate Court.

Labor Relations Board

Barbara Sanchez made a motion to appoint Michael Tenorio, Reyes Padilla and Michael Jiron to serve as members of Pueblo of Isleta Labor Relations Board. The motion carried with 9 in favor 0 opposed and 1 abstaining. (Juan Rey Abeita abstained). The Labor Board hears employee grievances from the tribal government and the tribe’s enterprises.

Tribal Enrollment Committee

Barbara Sanchez nominated Kateri Jojola to serve on the Tribal Enrollment Committee.  Josephine Padilla nominated Francis Abeita and Mary Ann Johnson.  The Council, however, decided to solicit letters of interest from tribal members that may want to serve on the Enrollment Committee. So, the Council has not yet voted to appoint anyone to this Committee. The Tribal Enrollment Committee is responsible for oversight of the Tribal Census Office.


By Christopher Abeita

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