Tonto Apache To Induct New Judge To Appeals Court

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Tao Etpison will be seated as the newest member of the Tonto Apache Tribal Court of Appeals Tuesday.

The Honorable Tom Zlaket, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, will be administering the oath of office at 11 a.m. Tribal Council members and dignitaries from Arizona Indian Tribes along with local officials will be on hand.

The Tonto Apache Tribe is governed by a five-member council, which initially received federal recognition on Oct. 6, 1972. It established the Court of Appeals Jan. 21, 2005 with three jurists: Zlaket, a former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, retired; Jesse Filkins, a former judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, a member of the Ramapough Mountains Indians and former judge for the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Fort McDowell Nation, and Yavapai-Apache Nation; and Kevin Gover, former Assistant Secretary of Interior and a member of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.

Etpison is no stranger to the Tonto Apache Tribe. He held the position of chief prosecutor in 2000-2001 and then shortly after was appointed as chief judge of the Tonto Apache Tribal Court. He held that appointment until 2008 and currently holds an elected position of Tribal Council Member for the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

During his tenure with the Tonto Apache Tribe, he established the probation office, strengthened the prosecutor’s office and proposed amendments and changes to the Law and Order Code, which were then passed by the Tribal Council.

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