Perry v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission

Petitioner Perry filed a complaint under the Navajo Preference in Employment Act before the Navajo Nation Labor Commission (NNLC) against the Utah Navajo Development Council (UNDC) for wrongful discharge. †Upon receiving the complaint UNDC Director Rebecca Benally filed an answer pro se with the NNLC on behalf of the UNDC, asking that the complaint be dismissed. The NNLC set an evidentiary hearing for October, 2005. But before the NNLC could decide the issue, Perry petitioned the Navajo Nation Supreme Court for a writ of supervisory control and a temporary restraining order against the NNLC, challenging Benallyís role in the proceedings. The Court then issued an alternative writ ordering the October 2005 hearing to be stayed and to show cause why the writ should not be made permanent.

The UNDC is a domestic nonprofit corporation that has been registered as a business entity in Utah since 1971. It is not known how long the UNDC had been incorporated under the Navajo Nation Corporation Code. †At the time the Respondent UNDC filed its supplemental brief and Motion to Dismiss, the UNDCís Utah and Navajo Nation licenses had expired.

Rebecca Benally, UNDC Director of the Even Start Program, is not a member of the Navajo Bar Association and is not licensed to practice law within the Navajo Nation or in any other state or federal jurisdiction. The issue in the case, as stated in the Petitionerís action, is whether the Director of a Utah-incorporated business committed the unauthorized practice of law, when she filed an answer pro se before the NNLC while not licensed to practice law within the Navajo Nation.

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