Navajo chief justice retires after decades-long legal career

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The chief justice of the Navajo Nation has retired, ending a decades-long legal career in which he played a key role in upholding a language fluency requirement in the tribe's presidential race.

Herb Yazzie announced his retirement Friday in a statement in which he also defended the court's decisions in a case regarding Chris Deschene, who was disqualified from the presidential race for failing to prove he could speak fluent Navajo.

Yazzie faced harsh criticism for the court's decisions in that case.

Yazzie was appointed as head of the tribe's Judicial Branch in 2005 and earned a lifetime appointment in 2007.

During his tenure, he defended the tribal courts' use of a centuries-old set of traditional laws and pushed back against outside attemps to shape tribal courts.