The Honorable Tao Etpison, chief judge of the Tonto Apache Tribal Court resigned his position, effective March 19.
This decision was due to Judge Etpison’s current commitment to the San Carlos Apache Tribe as an elected councilman.
Judge Etpison also previously served as a judiciary for the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
In an effort to have a more full-time and more local judge for the Tonto Apache Tribal Court, Judge Etpison agreed to resign.
Etpison has worked to build the Tonto Apache Tribal Court. Eight years ago when he accepted the judgeship, the court operated from a little house on a part-time basis and the clerk was handling all responsibilities, including the judicial functions. Judge Etpison converted this provisional court into a modern court of law recognized everywhere, according to a press release.
Etpison who is a San Carlos Apache tribal member speaks the Apache language. His great-grandfather, the late Jacob Allen, and late great-grandmother, Sarah Chapman, were from the Tonto Apache Tribe. This background motivated Etpison to improve and modernize the Tonto Apache judicial branch.
Today the Tonto Apache Tribal Court has a modern courthouse with an appellate division and probation department.
Etpison first became associated with the Tonto Apache Tribe in November 2000 as a prosecutor. In March 2001 he was promoted to chief judge of the tribal court. Presently, he serves as a councilman for the San Carlos Apache Tribe.