The Isleta Tribal Council gave Renee Torres $2,500 for her political campaign. Torres is a tribal member with the Pueblo of Isleta. She is seeking judicial office with the Bernalillo Metro Court. This is the same Tribal Council that refused to confirm Torres to the bench with the Isleta Tribal Court for the 2015-2016 term.
Renee Torres served as an Associate Judge for the Isleta Tribal Court during the 2013-2014 term. Torres is the daughter of Governor Eddie Paul Torres. He is the current Governor for the Pueblo of Isleta.
At the beginning of 2015, the Governor tried to appoint his daughter as Chief Judge of the Tribal Court. Governor Torres tried to avoid “appearances of impropriety” by having Lieutenant Governor Antonio Chewiwi present his appointment to the Isleta Tribal Council.
The Tribal Constitution empowers the Governor of the Pueblo to appoint judges to the Isleta Tribal Court. The Council must confirm judicial appointments with a 2/3 super majority vote. A simple majority vote is not sufficient. This means that a Governor needs at least five of the seven council members to vote in favor of his appointment.
Governor Torres was not able to secure enough votes to get his daughter appointed to a second term. When the Council denied the confirmation, the Governor was angry and he accused the Council of crippling the Court.
At the time, Council Member Verna Teller said that Renee Torres lacked the judicial temperament to serve as a judge. Verna Teller explained that she received numerous complaints from tribal members that Renee Torres was obnoxious and harsh while sitting on the bench. So, Teller voted against confirming Torres as the Chief Judge.
Other Council Members felt that it was a conflict of interest for the Governor to have his daughter serving as the Chief Judge. Governor Torres tried to address the concerns about “conflicts of interests” by having tribal attorney, Pablo H. Padilla, draft a “special resolution” that would place oversight of the judges with the Lieutenant Governors instead of the Governor.
Teller was critical of the special resolution. She questioned whether the Governors would actually comply with the resolution. The Isleta Constitution allows a Governor to select two (2) persons to serve as Lieutenant Governors. The Lieutenants are then responsible for helping the Governor execute his duties. Essentially, the Lieutenants serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
Teller felt that the “special resolution” would not eliminate or prevent appearances of impropriety or conflicts of interests. She also felt that the resolution would not actually prevent the Governor from defying the “special resolution.”
In the end, the Isleta Tribal Council refused to confirm Renee Torres as the Chief Judge for the Pueblo of Isleta. The same Council, however, supports Torres to be a judge for the Bernalillo Metro Court in Albuquerque.
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