Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Attorney Pablo Padilla Blames Council Member Barbara Sanchez

symbolFlaws in the Law

During the January 8, 2015, Isleta Tribal Council meeting, Tribal Attorney Pablo Padilla blamed Council Member Barbara Sanchez for a flaw in the law.

On November 1, 2010, the Council adopted Resolution #2010-123, entitled “Enacting a Tribal Judges Ordinance.” This law states:

“Appointments of Tribal Judges shall be made by Governor and concurred by Tribal Council between January 1 and January 6 of each year that follows an election of Governor and Tribal Council.”

This language is flawed because it assumes that the Council will always “concur” with whoever a Governor nominates to be a judge. So, it does not give a Governor enough time to find or present alternate nominees when a Council rejects his initial choice of candidates to serve as Tribal Judges.

So, essentially, it fails to provide a safety mechanism to ensure that the Tribe will always have Judges in place while the Tribe transitions its newly elected officials into office.

This flaw in the law was discussed when Council Members began questioning the tribal attorneys on whether Judges Lawrence Lucero and Renee Torres were lawfully seated. 

Council Member Verna Teller was very critical of Attorney Padilla because she felt that it was his job, as the Tribal Attorney, to have foreseen such basic possibilities. Padilla immediately responded that his first draft would have prevented any conflict. He then claimed that he changed his initial draft because of Council Member Barbara Sanchez.

Padilla explained that Sanchez, at that time, requested that he change his original language to force a Governor to present his nominees to the Council between January 1 and January 6.  She wanted to prevent a Governor from waiting months to present his  judicial nominees to the Council for confirmation. So, according to Padilla, he revised his original draft to satisfy Council Member Sanchez.


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