Navajo Nation rejects attempt to disqualify water judge

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is opposing attempts to disqualify a state judge from oversight of a decades-old water dispute in the San Juan River Basin.

In court filings Monday, attorneys for the Navajo Nation said accusations are unfounded that Judge James Wechsler previously worked on behalf of the tribal government.

At stake is a major water-rights award in northwestern New Mexico to the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation is seeking sanctions against attorney Victor Marshall for filing the motion against Wechsler.

On behalf of more than 20 community water districts, Marshall has highlighted Wechsler’s prior work for DNA Legal Services in the 1970s as an unreported conflict of interest. DNA Legal Services is an independent, nonprofit law firm that at times has been at odds with tribal government.

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