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Retired Tribal Court Judge Dies at 90

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tom Becenti, World War II vet, peacemaker, served Crownpoint Judicial District until he retired in 1977.

Tom Becenti, a retired Navajo tribal court judge, World War II veteran and peacemaker, died March 28 at the age of 90, The Daily Times in Farmington reported.

Becenti, a resident of the Becenti Chapter, was born on Dec. 21, 1920, and served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, The Daily Times said. He was approved as a tribal court judge in June 1960 and served at the Crownpoint Judicial District until his retirement in 1977.

He participated as a peacemaker in the tribe’s Peacemaker Program and continued to preside over court cases even in his retirement, according to the paper.

Becenti was praised at a memorial service last week for using Navajo common law in his work as a judge, The Daily Times said.

Retired District Court Judge Loretta Morris said Becenti disciplined attorneys who came into court using outside laws and admonished them to use the Navajo Nation’s own laws, according to The Daily Times.

“He was a noble leader,” Morris said of Becenti.

As a trial court judge in Crownpoint, Becenti provided services to To’Hajiilee, Ramah and Alamo before there were courts in those areas, Navajo Nation Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie said.

“Because of his rulings the Navajo sovereignty is the better for it, and it’s safer,” Tsosie said.

Becenti is survived by his wife, Dorothy H. Becenti, a son, two daughters, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, The Daily Times said.

Burial was Monday at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

 

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