[Please note: Very sad news -- Arrick Crittendon passed on January 18, 2003. Prayers are with his family.]

Judge LaRance Hears Critteden Case

Case Heard After Months of Postponements

After months of postponements requested by defending counsel Jeffrey Porturica, the Motion to Dismiss the case of The Hopi Tribe vs. Arrick Crittenden went before Chief Judge Gary LaRance on January 15, 2001.

Crittenden was arrested and charged with criminal trespass on August 20, 2001 in the Big Mountain area of the Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL). During the dismantlement of Camp Anna Mae, the site of a number of unauthorized gatherings, Crittenden ignored repeated warnings issued by Hopi police for him to remain at a safe distance from the dismantlement activity. Crittenden was arrested and taken to the Keams Canyon jail before being released on his own recognizance following his arraignment later that morning.

In arguing for a Motion to Dismiss, Porturica disputed the Hopi Tribe?s jurisdiction over his client. Grounding his argument in the Hopi-Navajo Land Dispute, Porturica contended that the Hopi Constitution, Article I ? Jurisdiction, "The authority of the Hopi Tribe shall be determined by the Hopi Tribal Council in agreement with the United States Government and the Navajo Tribe?" (emphasis added) had made the Hopi Tribe question their authority over Navajos living on Hopi land. This uncertainty had given the Tribe reason to take the land dispute to federal court. From this point forward, argued Porturica, Navajos residing on the HPL were subject to federal litigation, and trespass provisions in the Hopi Tribe?s Ordinance 21 did not apply to them. The Hopi Tribe?s lack of jurisdiction was further confirmed by the 1996 Settlement Act which provides specific provisions for Navajo presence on the HPL, and permits the US Attorney to evict any Navajos who failed to sign an Accommodation Agreement by February 1, 2000.

Porturica concluded that had the Hopi Tribe been confident in its jurisdiction over Navajos residing on the HPL, it would have used Ordinance 21 to evict the Navajos rather than taking the issue to federal court.

Hopi prosecutor, Geoffrey Tager, countered these arguments with the Hopi Tribe?s inherent sovereignty. Tager argued that the Hopi Constitution provides Hopi jurisdiction over all Hopi land and all residents thereof, irrespective of tribal membership. No federal litigation shielded the Navajos residing on the HPL from Hopi jurisdiction, and Crittenden was thus subject to all provisions of Ordinance 21. Tager observed that Porturica?s argument that the 1996 Settlement Act protected Crittenden?s presence on the HPL attempted to blur the distinction between trespass and eviction. The issue at hand was trespass, and thus the Hopi Courts had jurisdiction.

Judge LaRance denied the Motion to Dismiss, stating that no laws or acts had removed any authority from the Hopi Tribe. The Hopi Constitution states that all land added to the Hopi Reservation is subject to the Hopi Court?s jurisdiction and Arrick Crittenden is thus subject to all the provisions of Ordinance 21.

Porturica entered a plea of "not guilty" (of trespass) on behalf of Arrick Crittenden, and requested a jury trial.

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"We will be known by the tracks
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