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Navajo Leaders Proud of Judge Sykes

Navajo Leaders Proud of Judge Sykes
May 27
09:41 2022

By John Christian Hopkins

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer congratulated Judge Sunshine Suzanne Sykes, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation from Tuba City, for being confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 18, to serve as the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Sykes is the first Native American Article III judge in California, the first Article III judge from the Navajo Nation, and the fifth Native American Article III judge actively serving in the country.

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we congratulate Judge Sykes on her historic nomination and becoming the first Diné person to serve as a U.S. District Court judge. Her upbringing, exceptional experience, and commitment to serving the public and the justice system will bring new and unique perspectives to the justice system,” Nez said.

She was nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Sykes has served as a California Superior Court judge on the Superior Court of Riverside County. She received her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2001 and her B.A from Stanford University in 1997.

“We look forward to having more appointments that reflect the diversity of this country,” Nez added.

“I am elated for Judge Sykes’ confirmation to the federal district court! Native American representation on the bench is critical because it makes us full participants within the federal judicial system,” Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul said. “Her accomplishments also demonstrate to all Native law students that it is possible to accomplish your goals in the justice system. Yéego Judge Sykes!”

From 2001 to 2003, Judge Sykes was a staff attorney for California Indian Legal Services. From 2003 to 2005, she worked as a contract attorney for the Juvenile Defense Panel at the Southwest Justice Center.

Between 2005 to 2013, she served as a Deputy County Counsel in the Office of County Counsel for Riverside County.

“We congratulate Judge Sykes, her family, and her community of Tuba City, Arizona, for leading the way for more of our Navajo people to serve in the highest courts. With her confirmation, this demonstrates to our young people that hard work and prayer pay off. On behalf of my wife, Dottie Lizer and I, we congratulate Judge Sykes and we pray for her and her family as she moves forward in this new position,” Vice President Lizer said.

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