Tribal judge works for Yurok-style justice
Abby Abinanti metes out a more community-based form of justice for tribal members â€” starting with the question, 'Who's your mom?'
Abby Abinanti squints at her docket. "The court is going to call â€” the court is going to put on its glasses," she says dryly, reaching to grab her readers and snatch some candy from a staff member.
As chief judge of the Yurok Tribal Court, Abinanti wears no robe. On this day, she's in jeans and cowboy boots, her silver hair spilling down the back of a black down vest. In contrast to her longtime role as a San Francisco Superior Court commissioner, she doesn't perch above those who come before her; she shares a table with them.
"Hi, big guy. How are you doing?" she softly prods a 29-year-old participant in her wellness court, which offers a healing path for nonviolent offenders struggling with substance abuse.
Abinanti has watched Troy Fletcher Jr. battle bipolar disorder and methamphetamine addiction, land in jail and embrace recovery under the tribe's guidance. She's known his grandmother since before he was born.
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