Supreme Court Justice Barker-Jones dies
Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Angela Barker-Jones died at age 49 on July 31 after a battle with cancer. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Angela Barker-Jones died at age 49 on July 31 after a battle with cancer.
“Angie exhibited tremendous strength, determination and grace throughout her life. These characteristics were only magnified in her battle with cancer. She always remained positive and continued to put her family and other first,” states a post on her Facebook account. “She lost her fight with cancer, but managed to inspire us all in the process. She will be missed by all of us that were lucky enough to have her in our lives.”
According to a Supreme Court statement, Barker-Jones served on the Supreme Court bench for the past 5-1/2 years. “Her invaluable contribution and support to the Court and judicial staff will be greatly missed. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers,” the release states.
In a written statement, Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the tribe, legal community and her family have lost a “wonderful and admirable woman.”
“I was so proud to appoint her to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court in 2013, as her expertise and experience as a prosecutor, defender and civil attorney in northeast Oklahoma served the Cherokee people well,” Baker stated. “She was a compassionate advocate for Cherokee youth and Cherokee families. Her passing leaves a void in leadership in the Cherokee complex and within our Supreme Court. She will be remembered for her staunch protection of the Cherokee Constitution and the Cherokee people.”
Baker also described Barker-Jones as a “proud Cherokee woman” who the “entire tribe could look to with respect.”
“She comes from a family with deep roots of service to the Cherokee Nation, including her husband Stephen, who leads the dental programs within our health system, and mother, Dianne Barker-Harrold, also an attorney. In their time of grief, we are keeping the Jones family, including her sister Melinda and her children Lindsey, Spencer and Wyatt, in our thoughts and prayers,” Baker stated.
The Tribal Council approved Barker-Jones’ Supreme Court nomination on Dec. 10, 2012, and she was sworn on Jan. 2, 2013.
Prior to her swearing in, she had previously served on the tribe’s Employee Appeals Board. She had also served as an assistant district attorney in Cherokee and Muskogee counties, as a public defender and ran a private practice in Tahlequah.
Barker-Jones was only the second woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice. Muskogee native Stacy Leeds was the first, serving from 2002-06.
Barker-Jones’ term was for 10 years and was to expire on Dec. 31, 2022. She replaced former Chief Justice Darell Matlock, whose term expired on Dec. 31, 2012.
Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Aug. 3 at Cornerstone Fellowship in Tahlequah. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance at https://www.ccalliance.org
and the Innocence Project at https://www.innocenceproject.org