Steve Russell: Inside the fortresses of American courthouses

"The Sue & Chew is the new wave of courthouse snack bars. The food is bad enough to fend off the temptation to hang around longer than you must, but not so bad as to upset your stomach, because you can’t be interrupting trials for too many rest room runs.

They used to encourage hanging out. It was a courthouse snack bar where I met the elderly gentleman who had read in the newspaper that I hold dual citizenship in the Cherokee Nation and felt that he needed to meet me for the purpose of expressing that it was wrong for me to be on the public payroll because “Indians don’t pay taxes.”

In those days, I had not yet heard the argument that it was wrong for me to be on the public payroll because it’s not possible to serve two sovereigns. So I spent a long time trying to convince a hostile white guy that I do in fact pay taxes and I can offer fair trials to non-Indians.

I always wondered why it’s okay for white judges to try nonwhites but not vice versa? This was ordinary politics. I was dismayed by the conversation, but not threatened, and there was nothing odd about having it in the courthouse."

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Steve Russell: Inside the Fortress Courthouse (Indian Country Today 2/8)

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