Lynn Burris was sworn in as a Cherokee Nation Supreme Court justice at a ceremony on January 2 inside the Cherokee Nation Courthouse in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Burris, of Tahlequah, will serve a 10-year term on the tribe’s five-member Supreme Court bench. The Supreme Court interprets Cherokee Nation laws and decides child custody cases, Cherokee citizenship issues and other cases affecting the Cherokee people and tribe.
The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved Burris’ appointment November 13. He is the third Supreme Court appointment made by Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s administration.
“Judge Lynn Burris brings a wealth of legal experience and expertise to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court,” Chief Baker said. “He will be a true asset to our people as a defender and interpreter of our tribal constitution. I know Justice Burris’ substantive knowledge in Indian law will significantly serve the Cherokee legal system for years to come.”
Burris earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northeastern State University and his law degree from the University of Oklahoma. He has served as an attorney or judge for more than 45 years in county, federal and tribal courts. He was most recently a judge for the Cherokee Nation Administrative Appeals Board, where he presided over Tribal Employment Rights Office appeals.
Burris has also served as an adjunct professor at Northeastern State University and is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association and Cherokee County Bar Association.
“I am highly honored and excited to be a Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice,” Burris said. “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.”
Burris joins Supreme Court Justices John Garrett, Angela Jones, Troy Wayne Poteete and James Wilcoxen. He replaces former Chief Justice Darrell Dowty, whose term expired December 31.
The five Supreme Court justices will soon select a new chief justice.