The wife of suspended Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald says her husband is being denied a trial by his peers because the majority of the potential jurors being considered for his bribery and kickback trial are far too young.
A tribal judge, meanwhile, appointed two lawyers Wednesday to represent MacDonald's son, Peter "Rocky" MacDonald Jr., in the appeal of his Oct. 17 conviction on bribery and conspiracy charges.Five people have been chosen so far to serve on the jury for the MacDonalds' second trial. Six jurors and six alternates are to be chosen for the trial.
The elder MacDonald is charged with one court of bribery, one count of fraud, one count of conspiracy and 10 counts of ethics violations. Rocky MacDonald faces a single conspiracy count.
The charges stem from the tribe's purchase in 1987 of the Big Boquillas Ranch for $33.4 million one hour after it had been sold to a third party for $26.25 million.
MacDonald's wife, Wanda, complained outside the courtroom Wednesday that of the 44 potential jurors being considered for the trial, only three appear to be over 30 years old.
"If he were to be tried by his peers, there would be tribal chairmen from across the United States and a few people with grey hair."
MacDonald and his son were convicted in October of bribery, conspiracy and ethics violations. Both were sentenced to jail terms but have been released so they can help with their defense in the second trial and in the appeal of their original convictions.
Navajo District Judge Robert Yazzie signed an order Wednesday appointing Steven Boos, an attorney with DNA-People's Legal Services Inc., of Mexican Hat, San Juan County, and Laurence Long, legal advocate for the Navajo Housing Authority, to represent "Rocky" MacDonald during the appeal of his October conviction.
Boos and Long were appointed to represent "Rocky" MacDonald in the original trial after he was declared indigent on Aug. 9.
The lawyers are "the most suitable counsel available" to represent him during the appeal.
"Rocky" MacDonald, an unemployed attorney who lives in San Jose, Calif., filed a motion with the Navajo Supreme Court on Nov. 21 seeking court-appointed counsel.
The elder MacDonald also is appealing his conviction.