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JUDICIAL BRANCH

Article VII. Judicial
     There is hereby created a Judicial Appeals Tribunal composed of three (3)
     members all of whom must be admitted to practice law before the highest Court of
     the State of which they are residents, and all of whom shall be members of the
     Cherokee Nation, appointed by the Principal Chief and approved by the Council
     for such terms as the Council may provide. The purpose of this Tribunal shall be to
     hear and resolve any disagreements arising under any provision of this Constitution
     and any enactment of the Council. The Council shall provide for a procedure which
     shall insure that nay litigant receives due process of law together with prompt and
     speedy relief, and shall generally follow that portion of the Oklahoma Statutes
     know as the Administrative Procedures Act, Title 75, Oklahoma Statutes, 301 et
     seq. The decision of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal shall be final insofar as the
     judicial process of the Cherokee Nation is concerned.

THESE PICTURES OF THE CHEROKEE NATION COURTHOUSE , HOME OF THE JUDICIAL BRANCH, WERE TAKEN APRIL 12, 1997.  NOTICE THE BEAUTIFUL SHRUBBERY AROUND THE BUILDING.  IT WAS ALL REMOVED WHEN IT FELL UNDER BYRD'S CONTROL ON JUNE 20, 1997.
 



CHEROKEE NATION'S SUPREME COURT JUSTICES MEET WITH U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE-Pictured L to R-Cherokee Nation Justice Dwight W. Birdwell; US Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist; CN Justice Ralph F. Keen; CN Justice Philip H. Viles, Jr.  Photograph taken on trip to Washington, D.C.

 
Chief Justice Ralph F.  Keen and lovely wife, Karen
CHIEF JUSTICE RALPH  F.  KEEN, SR.
       Chief Justice Keen has formerly been  both Chief Justice of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal and an Associate Justice.  He currently serves again as Chief Justice.
         The Chief Justice was born in  1934  and raised in the Hominy community of Osage County.  After graduating from the Hominy public  grade school system, he obtained his high school diploma and certificate of proficiency in printing from Chilocco Agricultural School.
       Keen then joined the U.S. Army and served in the United States and in  Europe as an Infantry Squad Leader.  He  then   furthered his education at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.  The U.S. Air Force then obtained his services as a radar maintenance technician in the United States and Newfoundland.  He received an Honorable Discharge.
       Back to school at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, and 1962, Keen received a Bachelor of Arts in Education with a minor in English and a major in History.
       Keen  then became a  high school teacher, Linotype instructor at Haskell Indian School, Executive Director of the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, Director of  the Utah University's Bureau of Indian Services, and  then Business Manager of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
       In 1969, he attended the University of Tulsa College of Law and graduated in 1971 in the upper 10% of his class.
       Keen  practiced in a partnership  law firm, then worked as Deputy Director and Director of the Office of Trust Responsibility for the BIA in Washington, D.C..
       In 1977, he established his own private law practice until 1983 when he became the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.  Although retired since June of 1995, he held the positions of Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief, Civil Division of the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
        He has been admitted to practice law in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the United States Eastern District Court, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
        Before retiring, the Justice had also been a co-owner and publisher of a  now defunct  county  newspaper, and co-owner of a successful  international  tours travel agency.
  Justice Keen and  his  wife  have  four children and they reside in Tahlequah.

 
Justice Dwight W. Birdwell and lovely wife Virginia
 
JUSTICE DWIGHT  WAYNE  BIRDWELL
       Justice Birdwell  is  the former chief Justice of the Cherokee Nation.  He currently serves as an Associate Justice.
        Birdwell  was born  in  1948.  He grew up in the Bell community in Adair County.  He  graduated from Bell Grade School and  then Stilwell High School.
        Birdwell  joined the U.S. Army  during the Viet Nam conflict and  his heroic actions during  combat  were awarded with his first  Silver  Star  on January  31, 1968  and his   second  Silver  Star six  months later on July 4, 1968.    The Bronze Star Medal  was awarded to him  in September of 1968 for consistently manifesting exemplary professionalism and initiative in obtaining outstanding results from September of 1967 through September of 1968.  Birdwell also earned the Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal.  He is credited not only  with saving the lives of many, but also contributing immeasurably to the defeat of the enemy force and the success of the mission.  He recently co-authored a book about his experiences.
       After his military service, Birdwell received a BA degree in History with double minors in Geography and Political Science from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.  He was a member of a scholastic honor society, Alpha Chi and graduated in the top ten percent of the undergraduate class.
       From there, Birdwell went to the Oklahoma University College of Law where he graduated in the top ten percent of his class in 1976.  While there, he belonged to the Order of the Coif, a scholastic honor society restricted to the top ten percent of the graduating class and was the recipient of numerous Am. Jr. awards.
       Birdwell was admitted  to the Oklahoma State Bar in 1976 and has been a partner in Birdwell & Associates in Oklahoma City.  His practice concentrates in  Energy, Natural Resources and Indian Law.  He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
   Chief Justice Birdwell and his wife Virginia [Bean], have 2 children,  a daughter,  Stephanie Elaine and a son, Edward Lyndon..   Mrs.  Birdwell  is  from the  Pea  Vine  community in  Adair      county  and  she  is  also  a  Cherokee Tribal   member. The Birdwells work and leave in Oklahoma  City but they  still maintain their home in Bell, Oklahoma,  their real  home.

 
Justice Philip A. Viles, Jr.
 
JUSTICE PHILIP  H.  VILES,  JR.
 
      Justice Viles is the  senior member of the Judicial  Appeals  Tribunal.  He previously  served from 1976 to 1981 as Justice, and was appointed Chief Justice from 1981 through 1994.  He currently serves as Associate Justice.
       Viles was born in Chelsea of Rogers County to an  old  Cherokee family  in 1946.  He graduated as Valedictorian of his Claremore High School class.
       Viles received his Bachelors of Art in Economics in 1968  from the University of Virginia   While there his activities included being on the college daily newspaper staff, and  participating in  journalism, social, and business clubs.
       Viles then spent  4  years in the U.S. Air Force as Communications and Electronics Officer.  Viles had Top Secret clearance  and received the Vietnamese Medal of Honor (First Class) and USAF Commendation Medal for accomplishments.  He was honorably discharged  in 1972 as Captain.
       Viles then completed   his J.D. at  the University of Law- Tulsa in 1975.  He was on the Dean's honor roll, and finished in the top one-third of his class.
       Viles has been employed as a second vice president of a bank and trust company, and president  and partner of two companies.
       In 1983, he graduated with a M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa.  His G.P.A. was 3.4
       Until 1994, Viles worked in the private practice of law.  His memberships and affiliations have varied from Arts Institute, Historical Society, Rotary Club, and Advisory Boards where he has held many official positions.  He was previously the Chairman and Director of Cherokee Nation Industries from 1986 to 1988, and a previous Commissioner of the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
       Viles  currently holds   for-profit directorships in a local bank in Claremore.  He has also published a book on the  history of the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Congress Building.
       Viles is a member of the Oklahoma bar, and is admitted to practice  before U.S. District Courts in Eastern Oklahoma District and Northern Oklahoma District, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.
    Justice   Viles, a grandson of   former  Cherokee  Principal Chief J. Bartley Milam,  and his wife have 3 children reside in  Tulsa.

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Started - 1/20/98