Cherokee Nation appoints new Supreme Court Justice

December 14, 2012

Angela Jones

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — A longtime Tahlequah attorney is the newest Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice and second female to ever serve.

Principal Chief Bill John Baker recommended attorney Angela Jones to the key position, and the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved the appointment Dec. 10. Jones will take her oath and the bench in 2013.

“Angela Jones will be a great asset to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court and the Cherokee people. I know she will fight to protect and uphold our constitution,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “It’s also important to make sure we have balance on the bench, as she’ll be the first female to serve as a Supreme Court justice in several years. Her appointment is particularly significant, since the Cherokee Nation is a matriarchal society in which women are well respected and looked to for leadership.”

Jones is the second justice to be appointed since Baker took office.  Justice John Garrett, of Stilwell, was appointed in June. Jones, 43, will fill the seat vacated by Chief Justice Darrell Matlock, Jr. The justices will elect the new chief justice once Matlock’s term expires Dec. 31.

“I consider this a great honor as a Cherokee citizen, as a lawyer and mostly as a female,” Jones said. “I want to thank the members of the council and Chief Baker for their confidence in my abilities to do this job.”

Jones has been practicing law for nearly 20 years in Tahlequah and Muskogee. She served as the Asst. District Attorney for Muskogee County in 1995-96 and for Cherokee County in 2007. Jones also maintained a general practice in Tahlequah for several years. She currently serves the Cherokee Nation as a hearing officer for the tribe’s administrative appeals board regarding employee terminations and TERO certification.

Jones received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University and graduated summa cum laude. She earned her law degree from the University of Tulsa and graduated in the top 10 percent of her class.

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court is comprised of five justices and serve 10-year terms. The court decides cases ranging from child custody to election disputes and all other cases affecting the Cherokee people and its policies. 

In other business, Chief Baker and the Tribal Council honored two Cherokee teens from Hulbert and a Cherokee youth from Tahlequah Dec. 10 for acting as heroes. Chris Vance, 18, and Craig Potts, 17, seniors from Hulbert High School, rescued a family from a burning car at the Honor Heights Park Christmas lights show. Caleb Davis, a Briggs fourth-grader, used the Heimlich maneuver on a choking classmate at school last month.

At the meeting, the Tribal Council also approved the following:

Amended Cherokee Nation election laws to include at-large council seats now must live at-large upon filing starting in 2013.
A state burial designation for Cherokee Nation chiefs and deputy chiefs.
A Cherokee voter whose home straddles two voting districts can now choose which district they prefer to represent them.
The next Tribal Council meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at the W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah.
Cherokee Nation News Release

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