On November 9, 2021, Judge J. Matthew Martin will discuss his new book, The Cherokee Supreme Court: 1823-1835 with other scholars online. His book, the first legal history of the first tribal court, upends long-held misconceptions about the origins of Westernized tribal jurisprudence. This book demonstrates how the Cherokee people—prior to their removal on the Trail of Tears—used their judicial system as an external exemplar of American legal values, while simultaneously deploying it as a bulwark for tribal culture and tradition in the face of massive societal pressure and change. Extensive case studies document the Cherokee Nation’s exercise of both criminal and civil jurisdiction over American citizens, the roles of women and language in the Supreme Court, and how the courts were used to regulate the slave trade among the Cherokees. Although long-known for its historical value, the legal significance of the Cherokee Supreme Court has not been explored until now.
J. Matthew Martin is the first American Bar Association (ABA) Tribal Courts Fellow. In 2013 he retired after over a decade of service as an Associate Judge of the Cherokee Court, the Tribal Court for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. For over 25 years, Judge Martin has been Board Certified as a Specialist in Federal and State Criminal Law by the North Carolina State Bar. In the 1991 Term, at age 31, he argued Wade v. United States before the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Martin has spoken nationally and internationally on issues ranging from federal Indian law to criminal law and the judicial process. He is published in multiple peer-reviewed periodicals.
Judge Martin received a BA with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from the UNC School of Law. He also holds a Ph.D. in Judicial Studies from the University of Nevada-Reno. He has taught law students as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the UNC and Elon Schools of Law. He is a long-time member of the faculty of the National Judicial College and former Secretary to the College’s Board of Trustees. Judge Martin was honored as a T.C. Roberson High School “Graduate of Distinction” and received the “Franklin Flaschner Award” from the ABA’s National Conference of Specialized Court Judges as the nation’s outstanding specialized court judge in 2014. The Cherokee Supreme Court: 1823-1835 is his first book.
Trey Adcock (ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ, Citizen of Cherokee Nation), PhD, is an associate professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and the director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the University of North Carolina Asheville. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Native Health and sits on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Cherokee Studies.
Stacy Leeds is Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University. Leeds is Dean Emeritus, University of Arkansas School of Law (2011-2018) and the first Indigenous woman to lead a law school. Learn more at http://stacyleeds.com/biography