- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) - The head of the Navajo Nation’s judicial branch now is required to have a law degree.

Tribal President Russell Begaye approved a bill this week to make the switch from a law degree being preferred for the chief justice.

Begaye says the bill helps move the tribe toward fulfilling requirements of federal laws meant to bolster public safety on tribal lands. Tribes that have law-trained, licensed judges can lengthen and stack sentences under the Tribal Law and Order Act, and prosecute non-Natives for certain domestic-violence crimes under the Violence Against Women Act.

Acting Chief Justice Allen Sloan does not have a law degree.

Navajo Nation Council spokesman Jared Touchin says the new requirement applies only to those appointed and confirmed to the position.

The bill was sponsored by Dwight Witherspoon.

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