Tribal Council vs. Tribal Court
In 1987, the Isleta Tribal Council enacted Resolution #87-35, entitled “Adoption of the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Laws.” This meant that ALL State traffic laws including drunk driving laws now applied on the Pueblo’s reservation. This allowed the Pueblo to prosecute persons for violating traffic laws on the rez.
The 1987 Resolution states:
“NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that traffic offenses and violations . . . shall be decided by the Pueblo of Isleta Judiciary according to the State of New Mexico Motor Vehicle Laws as found at Chapter 66 of New Mexico Statutes Annotated to include future amendments, deletions and changes to the State of New Mexico Vehicle Laws . . . .” Resolution #87-35.
This means that any changes that the State of New Mexico makes to their traffic laws under Chapter 66 AUTOMATICALLY become the law of the Pueblo of Isleta. It makes no difference whether those changes are good or bad for the Pueblo.
So, this year, in accordance with the Resolution, the Pueblo of Isleta Tribal Courts were going to begin enforcing ALL provisions of Isleta’s Traffic laws. This meant that whenever the Court found someone guilty of a DWI, the Court would then report that person to the State of New Mexico. The State would then revoke that person’s driver’s license.
When the Council discovered that the Tribal Courts were going to begin reporting convictions to New Mexico, they took immediate action to stop the Tribal Courts by adopting Resolution #2015-077, entitled “Temporary Suspension of a Portion of Resolution #87-035 Requiring Mandatory Revocation of Licenses.”
The Council’s new Resolution suspends all provisions of Isleta’s Traffic laws that obligate the Pueblo or the Courts to report DWI convictions to New Mexico. This means that persons convicted of DWI on the rez can avoid having their driver’s license revoked by the State.
The Council also expressly provided:
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Court and Governor shall do all that is necessary to effect the intent of this Resolution.”
This means that all of the Isleta Tribal Court Judges along with Governor Eddie Paul Torres must do whatever is necessary to prevent or avoid reporting DWI convictions to the State. In other words, the Judges and the Governor must honor and comply with Resolution #2015-077.