Evidence of Prior Navajo DUI Conviction Excluded from Federal Prosecution

Here are the materials in United States v. Bundy (D. N.M.):

US Motion to Introduce Evidence of Navajo Conviction

Bundy Response

DCT Order Denying Motion

From the order:

As previously noted, Defendant has provided the Court with a copy of the transcript of her guilty plea proceeding. [Doc. 194-1] Since there is no indication in the transcript that Defendant was represented by counsel, the Court will not assume that Defendant was informed of her rights by counsel. Rule 12(c) of the Navajo Rules of Criminal Procedure required the judge, prior to accepting Defendant’s plea, to explain to Defendant that she had the rights (1) to remain silent, (2) to have counsel at her own expense or appointed counsel if defendant cannot afford counsel, (3) to plead not guilty, (4) to confront and cross-examine witnesses; (5) to be released on bail unless certain findings are made, (6) to trial by jury, (7) to a speedy and public trial, (8) to call witnesses, and (9) to file a writ of habeas corpus. Instead of the detailed enumeration of her trial rights contemplated by the Navajo Rules of Criminal Procedure, the page-and-a-half transcript shows a cursory, rudimentary colloquy. Although Defendant was asked “Do you understand your rights as explained to you?” the transcript does not include any enumeration of those rights, nor does the record show that Defendant was told that she was giving up those rights by pleading guilty. Under the Navajo Rules of Criminal Procedure, the advisement of rights pursuant to Rule 12(c) is the sole procedure for advising a defendant of her rights. Further, Defendant’s counsel has represented to the Court that an examination of the tape of the proceedings before the tribal court for April 22, 2009 fails to show any explanation of rights to Defendant or any other person. [Doc. 194 at 3, n.1] It appears that this prerequisite to a valid guilty plea was entirely overlooked in Defendant’s case. The Court finds that Defendant was not advised of key rights guaranteed by ICRA–the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to confront her accusers and to compulsory process, the right to counsel at her own expense, and the right to trial before a jury of not less than six persons. Section 1302 (4) (6) and (10). The transcript also shows that there was no inquiry into the factual basis of Defendant’s plea. Defendant has made a compelling showing that her guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary. Under ICRA due process of law is itself a right. Section 1302(8). The Court concludes that Defendant’s guilty plea was obtained in violation of the due process provision of ICRA, and under Shavanaux is inadmissible as substantive evidence in a subsequent federal prosecution.

In a footnote, the court added:

Given the solicitude of the Navajo Supreme Court for the rights of accused tribemembers, e.g. Eriacho v. Ramah District Court, 6 Am. Tribal Law 624 (Navajo Sup. Ct. 2005); Navajo Nation v. Curley, 6 Am. Tribal Law 697 (Navajo Sup. Ct. 2005); Curley v. Navajo Nation, 4 Am. Tribal Law 622 (Navajo Sup. Ct. 2002), the Court has considerable doubt whether a prior conviction based on a demonstrably invalid guilty plea would be admissible in Navajo tribal court over the defendant’s objection.