CN Supreme Court Justice Burris dies at age 83

03/16/2020 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Lynn Burris
Main Cherokee Phoenix
CN Supreme Court Justice John Garrett swears in Justice Lynn Burris, left, in January 2015 with the help of Burris’ daughter, Amber George. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation is mourning the loss of Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Lynn Burris who died March 11 at the age of 83.

Justice Burris was appointed to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court for a 10-year term by then-Principal Chief Bill John Baker in 2014 and served from Jan. 2, 2015, until his passing. The CN Supreme Court interprets CN laws and decides child custody cases, Cherokee citizenship issues and other cases affecting the Cherokee people and tribe. 

“Justice Burris performed his duties to the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee people both faithfully and impartially, and his depth of Cherokee history and expert knowledge in judicial procedure in northeastern Oklahoma, will leave a tremendous void in our Cherokee legal world,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.

He was first appointed to the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal in 1983 by then-Principal Chief Ross Swimmer and served until 1984.

After playing on the state championship football team at Muskogee High School, Burris attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. While attaining his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma University, he was a member of the National Championship football team in 1956.

Burris received his legal training at the University of Oklahoma Law School where he graduated in 1968.

From 1968 until 1973, Judge Burris served as an Assistant District Attorney in Sequoyah and Cherokee counties as well as having a private practice. He also served as an associate district judge for District 15 in Oklahoma. He assumed his position on the bench in 1973.

He has also served as an adjunct professor at NSU and was a member of the Cherokee Nation Bar Association, Oklahoma Bar Association and Cherokee County Bar Association.

“Judge Lynn Burris brings a wealth of legal experience and expertise to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court,” Baker said upon Burris’ appointment in 2015. “He will be a true asset to our people as a defender and interpreter of our tribal constitution.”  

After his swearing in January 2015, Burris said he was “highly honored” and “excited” to be a Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice.

“All I can say is that I’m going to do the best job I can and look forward to serving with the other justices on the Supreme Court,” he said.


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