Tahlequah Daily Press

December 11, 2012

Jones confirmed to CN Supreme Court

By TEDDYE SNELL
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah attorney Angela Jones was confirmed by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council as a justice to the tribe’s supreme court Monday night.

Jones, who has 17 years’ experience as an attorney has been both an assistant district attorney and a public defender. She is also a member of the tribe’s appeals board.

During discussion, Councilor Cara Cowan-Watts had a number of questions for Jones, including asking who her relatives are and what connection they may have to the Cherokee Nation.

“My mother, Dianne Barker-Harrold, is the attorney for the tribal council,” said Jones. “My grandmother, Betty Barker, has been appointed to work in the Cherokee Nation Registrar’s Office. My husband, Steve Jones, is deputy director of dental clinics for the Cherokee Nation.”

Cowan-Watts asked Jones is she has an potential conflicts of interest in serving as a justice. Jones said she does not.

Cowan Watts also asked about Jones’ affiliation with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.

“I do not do, nor have I ever done, any work either directly or indirectly for the chief of the UKB,” said Jones. “I was appointed to represent [UKB] parents or children who could not afford an attorney. I have two open cases involving children at this time. I have not taken any new appointments, and I will not take any new appointments. I feel it’s important to finish these two cases.”

Jones will replace Chief Justice Darrell Matlock, whose term expires Dec. 31. Matlock was not renominated by Principal Chief Bill Joh Baker.

In other business, the council approved an amendment to the tribe’s election laws requiring at-large councilors to live outside the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. Jack Baker, one of two at-large councilors, lives in Oklahoma City, but Julia Coates, lives in Tahlequah.

Coates opposed the measure, and during discussion asserted the move may be considered unconstitutional.

Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the measure “levels the playing field.”

“If you want to represent at-large, you ought to live among at-large Cherokees,” said Hoskin. “What we did not say, but I think Councilor Coates wishes we had, is that an at large councilor could live anywhere. Folks in District 4 must live in District 4. If you want to represent the folks, live among them. It’s really a simple proposition.”