Ex-justice files intent to sue over council meeting fees


The first Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, Tom Tso, has filed an intent to sue the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller and former acting controller Bobby White over what he considers an unlawful increase in the salary given to council delegates.

Tso, who served as Chief Justice from 1985-1991, is being represented by Gallup attorney David Jordan. Tso’s intent letter states that in a 2011 resolution, during the 22nd Navajo Nation Council, the Naabik’íyáti Committee approved a $300 “meeting fee for attendance at meetings related to Navajo Nation business or community and constituent concerns.”

“This resolution represents an unlawful increase in the salary given to Council Delegates in violation of 2 N.N.C and Judy v. White,” Tso stated in the letter.

Further into the letter it states council delegates are compensated by an annual salary of $25,000 per year. A salary increase may be approved by the Navajo Nation Council, but shall not become effective unless ratified by a 2/3 vote of the people within 120 days of council approval. This does not apply to mileage, per diem, deferred compensation benefits or any other payments or benefits.

“What is worse, the Delegate has the power to set such ‘meetings,’ and there is no limit on how many meetings a Delegate can schedule,” stated the letter. “A delegate could literally set himself eight meetings in a day, and increase his annual salary by nearly 10 percent in one single day.”

In a news release responding to Tso’s intent, Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates pointed out that the Legislative Branch is not a party to the potential lawsuit.

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com.