An attorney for suspended Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald said Friday a lively defense will be presented in MacDonald's upcoming conspiracy trial in tribal court.
"This next trial is going to be very exciting. We have a different style. You're going to see a lot of emotion from the attorneys. It will be a very lively trial," said William Cooley of Albuquerque, N.M.Cooley will represent MacDonald alongside Shannon Robinson, also of Albuquerque.
MacDonald had different attorneys in the first of three trials he faces. The first trial, on charges alleging that MacDonald accepted bribes and kickbacks from businessmen operating on the reservation, ended Oct. 17 with convictions of MacDonald and his co-defendant son, Peter "Rocky" MacDonald Jr.
MacDonald's second trial stems from the tribe's February 1987 purchase of the Big Boquillas Ranch and is scheduled to begin Nov. 27. Rocky MacDonald also is a co-defendant in the case, which stems from the tribe's $33.4 million purchase of the 491,000-acre ranch from a company which bought the property for $26.25 million the same day.
Suspended Vice Chairman Johnny Thompson is a co-defendant in MacDonald's third trial, which will involve election-law allegations stemming from the tribe's 1986 election.
Cooley, 29, called himself a "live wire" and "a hard-headed trial lawyer," and said he "will not allow the prosecutors to run over" him.
Although Cooley said he had not met with MacDonald since his release from the Window Rock jail Thursday, Cooley plans to meet with his client before Thanksgiving.
Tribal District Judge Robert Yazzie ordered the MacDonalds released so they could help their attorneys file appeals in the first case and prepare for trial in the second.
Cooley credited a writ which defense attorneys filed Nov. 9 with the Navajo Supreme Court with prompting the judge's order. The writ claimed MacDonald was being held unlawfully and stated he should be released to prepare for his defense.
Yazzie signed his order before the Supreme Court took up the writ, Cooley said.
In another development, Special Prosecutor Richard Hughes said the prosecution has filed a motion seeking to exclude planned defense testimony regarding the ranch's current value.
Cooley said the defense plans to call a private investigator and a rancher to testify regarding the ranch's current value and offers made to purchase the property from the tribe.
"There are offers to purchase Big Boquillas at $40 million, which would mean a $7 million profit for the tribe," said Cooley.
Hughes said such testimony should be excluded on grounds of irrelevancy.
The ranch purchase also is the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by the tribe against MacDonald and others in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.