The Constitution and By-Laws of the Hopi Tribe was approved by the self-governing Hopi and Tewa Villages of Arizona to provide a way of working together for peace and agreement between the villages, and of preserving the good things of Hopi Life, and to provide a way of organizing to deal with modern problems, with the United States Government and with the outside world generally. The constitution provided authority to establish a Tribal Court at Article VI, Section 1(g) of the Constitution and bylaws of the Hopi Tribe:
“To make ordinances to protect the peace and welfare of the Tribe and to set up courts for the settlement of claims and disputes, and for the trial and punishment of Indians within the jurisdiction charged with offenses against such ordinances.”
Prior to the establishment of the Hopi Judiciary, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Court of Indian Offenses administered justice on the Hopi Reservation.
Pursuant to the authority in the Constitution, on July 10, 1972, the Hopi Tribal Council adopted Ordinance 21, thereby creating the Hopi Judicial system.
On August 28, 2012 the Hopi Tribal Council approved and adopted the Hopi Tribal Code, which replaces and supersedes all versions of, and amendments to, and resolutions concerning Ordinance 21:
“This Hopi Code is established by the Hopi Council in order to ensure that those who violate the rights of the Hopi people to live in a peaceful, crime-free environment are appropriately removed from our Villages and rehabilitated before they are allowed to return. Respect for the rights of others is a basic tenet of the Hopi way of life.
It is further the intent of this Hopi Code to adopt the essential provisions of the United States Government’s Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. Therefore, in accordance with Section 234(a) of the Act, the Hopi Code provides for:
- The effective assistance of counsel, Section 2.8.5 (Rights of Accused);
- Access to a licensed attorney for the indigent at Tribal expense, Section 1.6.3 (Hopi Public Defender);
- Licensed judges presiding over cases with enhanced sentencing, Sections 1.3.3. (Qualifications of Chief Judge and Senior Associate Judge), 1.3.6 (Pro-Tem Judge), and 2.2.4 (Assignment of Criminal Actions Involving Serious or Dangerous Offenses); and
- A Record of court proceedings, Section 1.5.7 (Courts of Record).
Finally, the Hopi Council hereby certifies that it has promulgated the Hopi Code among its members and made public the criminal laws, Federal Rules of Evidence and Criminal Procedure contained herein, on the Tribal Website and all Village Business Offices.”
The powers of the Hopi Tribal Courts are defined not only by the Hopi Code but the Constitution and By-Laws of the Hopi Tribe and various other tribal ordinances. Additionally, the Court follows applicable federal law including the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.
The responsibility of the Judiciary is to apply and interpret the laws of the Hopi Tribe. The Judiciary does this in cases involving real differences. The judiciary does not make a law, that is the function of the Hopi Tribal Council, nor does the Judiciary carry out the executive function of the tribal government.
The Hopi Tribal Courts has been automated since the 1990s. However, the equipment was comprised primarily of stand-alone, full functioning computers without internet access and connectivity to other judicial offices. In 2002, with the assistance of the National Center for Rural Law Enforcement at the University of Arkansas, the Hopi Tribal Courts implemented a networked environment. Since then, we have upgraded our computer hardware and software to further enhance the court’s technology. The Hopi Tribal Courts is still looking for new and improved ways to provide services to the Hopi communities through enhanced technology advancements.
Hopi Tribal Courts utilizes court case management software called FullCourt Enterprise. Developed by Justice Systems, Inc. FullCourt Enterprise is a table driven system that allows us to customize features and functionality that is unique to the Hopi Tribal Courts. It is a party-based system that creates a complete case history for each party involved in a case. This allows for more quicker and expedient research. Because Tribal Courts are unique, FullCourt Enterprise allows the full scope of tribal jurisdiction. We are among numerous tribal courts around the country that enjoy the flexibility of FullCourt Enterprise’s features.
Jury Management Module
To further customize our case management software, the courts have invested in the Jury Management Module, also developed by Justice Systems, Inc. The Jury Management Module is used by the Court Clerk’s office to draw upon prospective jury sources for jury trials. This module uses the Hopi Tribe’s Enrollment data to create a master jury pool. It also manages the selection, excusal and dismissal processes. The definitions of juror eligibility are also incorporated into this functionality.
Liberty Digital Court Recording System
The Hopi Tribal Courts has developed a partnership with JCG Technologies, Inc. to move to a digital recording environment in both courtrooms. This provides the courts with high quality audio recording of courtroom proceedings with direct archival onto CD-ROM. The court clerks are able to include text notes and bookmarks during recording and monitor each recording to ensure volume levels are sufficient. Recordings can be heard on the judges’ desktop computers and can be duplicated for re-distribution and archival.
Matrix Imaging System
Matrix Imaging, Inc. has provided a solution to the Hopi Tribal Courts to digitally image old court documents. The software called ApplicationXtender is used by the Court Clerk’s office to scan, archive and retrieve old court documents. The court clerks scan these documents and save the digital images to a database that resides on the network. When a request is submitted for an outdated document, the clerk can retrieve and print a copy of the document.
Hopi Appellate Court Judges
Robert Clinton, Chief Justice
Patricia Sekaquaptewa, Justice
Justin Richland, Justice
Hopi Trial Court Judges
Karen Pennington, Chief Judge
Jeremy A. Brave-Heart, Senior Associate Judge
Delfred Leslie, Associate Judge
Walter Edd, Associate Judge
Hopi Tribal Court Administration
Kathryn Kooyahoema, Court Administrator
LaVera Honanie-Atokuku, Judicial Assistant
Cheryl Polingyumptewa, Judicial Administrative Secretary
Shawna Lomavitu, Receptionist
Carol Ovah, Chief Court Clerk
Margene Namoki, Deputy Court Clerk
Belena Harvey, Deputy Court Clerk
Imalene Polingyumptewa, Deputy Court Clerk
Martina Honie, Deputy Court Clerk
Nadine Watson, Chief Probation Officer
Suenwesa Soohafyah, Probation Officer
April Talashie, Probation Officer
(vacant), Probation Officer
(vacant) , Pretrail Officer
(vacant), Pretrial Officer
Leon Beatty, Court Security Officer
Everette Youyetewa, Bailiff
Hawthorne Dewakuku, Bailiff
Probation is supervision of persons that have committed crimes who otherwise would have been ordered to serve a jail sentence.
The Hopi Tribal Probation Department provides supervision of both adult and juvenile offenders whom are ordered to follow certain conditions set by the Court. Offenders are ordinarily required to refrain from possession, use and/or consumption of alcohol, and may be ordered to remain employed or be in school, abide to a curfew, live at a directed place, obey the orders of the Probation Officer and may not leave the jurisdiction. A Probationer might be ordered to refrain from contacts with the victims (such as a former partner) in a domestic violence case, victims of crimes (such as minors, if the offense involves abuse/abandonment), or with known criminals, particularly codefendants. Additionally, Probation restrictions can ban the Offender from purchase/possession of weapons including knives or guns. Also, Offenders may be ordered to submit to repeated alcohol/drug testing and participate in alcohol/drug or psychological treatment. The Probation Department supervision includes Offenders ordered to perform community service work either separate or in conjunction with Probation. Other functions Probation Officers perform include Pre-Sentence Investigations for adults and Pre-Dispositional Reports for juveniles.
While on Supervised Probation, a Defendant whom commits new crimes or violates the terms and conditions of Probation may be faced with revocation. In the early stages, the Probation Officer will request for the revocation process to begin and in turn the Prosecutor will file the motion for revocation with the Court. The Court then sets a hearing to allow the Defendant to plea to the charge. If the Defendant enters a guilty plea, then he/she may be ordered to serve the original suspended sentence in jail. Should a Defendant be found to have not violated Probation, Supervised Probation continues.
Each Hopi Probation Officer must attend and complete the Tribal Probation Academy upon hire. Information for the Tribal Probation Academy can be found on the Fox Valley Technical College website at www.fvtc.edu.
In the near future, select Offenders on probation may be fitted with a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (aka SCRAMx), which tests the Probationer for the use of alcohol every thirty minutes. The stored test(s) are downloaded and viewed by the Probation Officer via SCRAMnet internet website. More information on this technology can be found at www.alcoholmonitoring.com.
First Mesa Villages
The Hopi Tribal Court’s Community Service Work Program provides a meaningful alternative to individuals who commit non-violent and non-dangerous crimes to settle or dispose of the crimes by working for Hopi and other communities through the community service work program rather than serve a jail sentence or pay a court fine.
The Hopi Tribal Court’s community service work program rules prohibit community service workers from selecting or choosing on their own, friends, family members or relatives or profit making agencies, groups or individuals for whom they may work. The community service work agency shall assign community service workers to work for non-profit agencies, groups or village/community members who are elderly or disabled. The community service worker shall not work for a family member, his or her friends or for a business or individual who is engaged in a financial profit making activity or business.
The community service worker is instructed to select a community service work agency from court’s approved agency list and report to that agency to begin the community service work. The community service worker shall give to the agency, the community service work report documents and a copy of his/her judgment order upon acceptance by the community service work agency. The agency shall record in the report document the number of hours the community service worker has worked each day until he or she has completed the required number of community service work hours. Following the satisfactory completion of the community service work, the community service work agency supervisor or representative shall verify that the community service worker has completed the community service work by placing his or her signature in the report document. The signed report document is given to the community service worker to bring to the court.
Individuals will execute a waiver of liability following their decision or choice to participate in the community services work program. In essence, by signing the waiver of liability, individuals agree not to sue the Hopi Courts, the Hopi Indian Tribe or any agency connected to the community work service program should they suffer any type of injury or fatality during the period of time they are engaged or are active participants in the community service work program. Individuals have a choice not to participate in the community service work program. Individuals who refuse to sign the waiver of liability cannot participate in the community service work program.
The community service work agency may refuse to accept a community service worker for any reason it deems appropriate.
The community service worker’s unsatisfactory, failure, refusal to complete the community service work may be grounds to terminate the community service work by the community service agency at any time. The community service work agency may terminate the community service work in the event the community service worker does not report to work, present him or herself at the work site in a disorderly condition, presents a danger to him or herself or others, becomes a problem and/or if he/she is under the influence of an alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs or a controlled substance. In such a case, the community service work agency shall immediately send the bad conduct report document to the court, which shall briefly describe the incident or reason leading to the termination of community service work.
The Hopi Tribal Court encourages the communities’ use of the court’s community work service program. The communities’ participation as a user agency provides a valuable service to Hopi people and your community in terms of dealing with non-violent and dangerous crimes in a meaningful way. We encourage you to call or come to the court and offer recommendations on ways to improve on the delivery and service of the community service work program.
Any questions about the Community Service Program may be directed to the Probation Department.