Baker sworn in as Supreme Court justice

BY STAFF REPORTS
09/09/2020 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Nation’s newest Supreme Court Justice Shawna Baker is sworn in Aug. 27 by Justice John Garret at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex after being confirmed by the Tribal Council. Baker is a Cherokee Nation citizen from Tulsa. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen Shawna Baker, of Tulsa, was sworn into office as the tribe’s newest Supreme Court Justice on Aug. 27 at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. nominated Baker to the CN Supreme Court and the Tribal Council confirmed Baker’s appointment during its Aug. 27 meeting held shortly before her swearing-in ceremony.

Baker joins former Justice Stacy Leeds and the late Justice Angela Barker-Jones as one of only three women to serve as a Supreme Court Justice in CN history.

“I am honored to become the third woman to serve on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court,” Baker said. “My deepest gratitude to Chief Hoskin for my nomination, to the Tribal Councilors for your votes to confirm, to Stacy Leeds for breaking the glass ceiling and lifting up other Cherokee women, to Justice John Garrett for presiding over my swearing-in, to Jayme (E. Cox) for your commitment and devotion, to my dear friends and to so many others who made today possible in one way or another. I will forever be grateful beyond measure.”

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the CN government, interpreting the tribe’s constitution and its statutes in all civil and criminal proceedings within the tribe’s jurisdiction.

“I applaud the Council’s decision to confirm the nomination of Shawna Baker to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court,” Hoskin said. “Justice Baker is a supremely qualified Cherokee who has the depth of experience that any Supreme Court in this country would like to have. We need a Supreme Court that has a diversity of legal experience, and I truly believe we have found the right addition with Justice Baker. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen of the highest caliber, and I thank the Council for taking the right action in this historic moment.”

Baker earned a bachelor’s degree from John Brown University, a master’s degree in biological science and a law degree from the University of Tulsa, a master’s degree in law from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in law in taxation from New York University.

She brings 18 years of legal experience in various areas of law. Some of her prior roles include a litigation associate, an attorney and a managing partner at various law firms, a trustee of a charitable organization and an assistant professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law. Most recently, she served on the CN Gaming Commission. She is also a member of several bar associations including the CN Bar Association. 

Baker will serve the remaining four years of former Supreme Court Justice Lynn Burris’ term after his passing in March. That term ends Dec. 31, 2024. She joins Supreme Court Chief Justice James G. Wilcoxen and Justices Lee W. Paden, Mark L. Dobbins and Garrett.

Baker was confirmed 13-4 with Tribal Councilors Wes Nofire, Harley Buzzard, Mary Baker Shaw and Julia Coates opposing.

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