Restorative Justice Talk with James W Zion June 18 2012

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Monday, June 18, 2012, Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston St, Boston, MA

Occupy Boston Curriculum Note


The 99% are the new poor, and a primary reason for that is that they are poor in terms of power and access to it. They are the victims of abuses of authority and power, authoritarianism, and the abusers of power are the state, corporations, the parties of fear and the new Know Nothings. The assignment is to speak to restorative and community justice.

“Restorative justice” is a term with many meanings, and it takes many forms, but it assumes that the best people to resolve a problem or conflict are those who have it. Most systems use a mediator or some other third party to guide practical discussions on means of resolution. “Community justice” is a fairly new concept in justice system planning that attempts to reach out to communities by siting resources within them or otherwise involve community members. Justice systems have taken overly-cautious approaches to both and ignore the major issue as posed by a leading critic of justice system alternatives when she observed that the real issue is how we are going to attain “justice for the masses; the many.” We need justice mechanisms that respond to the wants and needs of the people and those that address the core problem of poverty in the sense of ending imbalances of bargaining position.

This talk will challenge audiences to consider the value of restorative and community justice (with short descriptions of the two) and how to articulate how to address actual need by way of balancing power relationships and promoting inclusion to challenge legal systems to be truly responsive.

James W. Zion, the presenter, is a longtime advocate of restorative justice, with close involvement with establishing the system of Navajo peacemaking of the Navajo Nation that is considered a model of restorative justice.

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                                                                     BIO:  DR. JAMES W. ZION

James W. Zion is a public interest lawyer who lives in Albuquerque and practices law in the Navajo Nation and international fora- UN Indigenous Forum, UN Commission on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Geneva, etc. . His client base is primarily individual Navajos, Navajo nonprofit corporations and Navajo community organizations. He is the international counsel for the National Indian Youth Council. Zion has been in practice 43 years. His focus is public interest law in Indian Country.

He is licensed to practice in the Navajo Nation, Connecticut and the United States Supreme Court. He has published in the fields of customary Indian law and international indigenous human rights, and his latest book is Marianne 0. Nielsen & James W. Zion, eds., Navajo Nation Peacemaking: Living Traditional Justice (U. of Arizona Press, 2005). He is a 2012 Givelber Distinguished Lecturer at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, on the topic Ma 'ii Adil 'inigii? Indian Law for Coyotes.

Zion's particular interests are traditional American Indian justice and customary law, international human rights law, poverty law and advocacy of the rights of the new poor, the 99%. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals, and advocacy group for the rights of the victims of injustice and counsel to various Navajo public interest organizations, including the Shiprock Home for Women and Children, the Shiprock Community Development Corporation, The Forgotten People and Dine' bi Siihasin.