Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Michelle Brown-Yazzie will Serve as Pro Tem Judge for Isleta

gvlLawrence Lucero Declines Position as Pro Tem Judge

This morning, at the Isleta Tribal Council meeting, the Associate General Counsel for the Tribe, Kaydee Culbertson, reported that Lawrence Lucero was not able to serve as a Pro Tem Judge.

Attorney Culbertson explained that Lucero spoke with his supervisor at the Indian Health Service (IHS).  He was informed that if he did not return to his regular job, his employment would be in jeopardy. So, Lucero declined serving as a Judge and he returned to his regular job. 

Governor Torres contacted Governor Ivan R. Pino of Zia Pueblo to ask whether he would have any problems, if he selected their Chief Judge Michelle Brown-Yazzie as a Pro Tem Judge for Isleta. Governor Pino was willing to help our Tribe and he had no objections.

Judge Brown-Yazzie has been the Pro-Tem Judge for Isleta this past year. She has been a Judge in Zia for 3 years where she is now the Chief Judge.

The Council had very few questions for Judge Brown-Yazzie.

Council Member Verna Teller made a motion to approve entering a contract with Judge Brown-Yazzie to serve as a Pro Tem Judge.  Ulysses Abeita seconded the motion.  The motion carried with 7 voting yes, 0 voting no and 0 abstaining.

Control of Court Personnel

Before approval of the contract, Attorney Pablo Padilla asked whether the Council wanted to include a provision that would give the Pro Tem Judge authority to supervise the Court’s personnel.  Governor Torres stated, I’m really surprised and disturbed by our General Counsel [Pablo Padilla] bringing up this issue. Torres felt that the Tribal Council’s role was limited to merely confirming the Judge. 

Council Member Teller responded, keep in mind that it’s the Council’s responsibility for setting policies, procedures, rules and contract terms. And, the Governor is responsible for enforcing them. She said, it behooves us to address these issues.

Secretary Barbara Sanchez stated, unfortunately, I must agree with Council Member Teller. She [the Judge] needs to have authority over the Court’s personnel otherwise the employees could undermine the Judge by going to the Governor.

Governor Torres said, I can agree with that, I’m not going to get into a power struggle with the Council. We need to do what’s in the best interests of the Tribe.

Boundary Dispute with Valencia County

In other news, today, Governor Torres will be releasing a statement to the media concerning the Pueblo’s boundary dispute with Valencia County. The Governor anticipates that the Valencia County New-Bulletin and/or the Albuquerque Journal will publish his statement. So, keep on the lookout.

The next Tribal Council meeting will occur tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m.


Attorney Pablo Padilla Blames Council Member Barbara Sanchez

What are your thoughts?

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