Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation Coming to Yale Law School on October 25 - CANCELLED
The Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation, the largest American Indian nation in the United States, will be sitting at Yale Law School on Monday, October 25, 2010. The event is sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs, the Native American Law Students’ Association (NALSA), and the Pacific Islander, Asian, and Native American Law Students’ Association (PANA), with support from the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School.
The Court, consisting of Chief Justice Herbert Yazzie, Justice Cynthia Thompson, and Justice Wilson Yellowhair, will hear oral arguments in the case, John Doe BF v. Diocese of Gallup, et. al. (See briefs below.) The case concerns the alleged sexual abuse of a Navajo teenage boy in the 1980s by a former Catholic Franciscan priest who was pastor of the church the boy attended on the Navajo Nation reservation. The plaintiff filed suit in 2007, asserting it was not until that time that he realized he’d been injured by the sexual abuse. At issue is whether the plaintiff waited too long to sue his alleged abuser, and whether a tribal court has jurisdiction over the case since it involves a non-Indian defendant.
It’s the Navajo Nation Supreme Court’s first visit to Yale Law School and a chance for members of the Law School community to witness a tribal court in session. The justices will hold a question-and-answer session with students following the arguments.
“The Court’s visit is a unique and exciting opportunity for our students, faculty, and the public to get a firsthand look at how the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation works,” said Yale Law School Dean Robert Post ’77. “The visit will also help build interest in and awareness of Native American law throughout the community.”
“We hope that bringing the Navajo Nation Supreme Court to Yale will make people think about tribal courts systems, their relationships with other courts, the importance of culture and tradition in law, and the dynamic role of law itself,” said NALSA co-chair Maile Tavepholjalern ’11. “We would like students to leave oral arguments with an understanding of the important role that tribal courts play in resolving disputes in Indian country and in the struggles of individuals and tribes to maintain their traditions.”
The Navajo Nation court system is the largest Indian court system in the United States, handling more than 75,000 cases per year. It consists of two levels: the trial courts and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, which sits in Navajo Nation territory in Window Rock, Arizona. Navajo judges are mandated to apply the principles of peacemaking in their decision-making.
The arguments will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Yale Law School auditorium, and the public is welcome to attend. Yale Law School is located at 127 Wall Street, New Haven.
NOTICE OF APPEAL
APPELLANT'S EXHIBITS 1 – 4
APPELLANT'S EXHIBITS 5 – 11
BRIEF OF APPELLEE DIOCESE OF GALLUP
BRIEF OF APPELLEE FRANCISCAN DEFENDANTS
BRIEF OF APPELLEE CHUCK CICHANOWICZ
APPELLANT'S REPLY BRIEF