Become a Signatory to Abbigail A. Amicus Brief

CILS has drafted an amicus brief for an ICWA case currently before the California Supreme Court, In re Abbigail A. This case involves the question of whether a county social services agency has an obligation to assist in the enrollment of a child who is eligible for enrollment but whose parent is not enrolled.

Also at issue in this case is whether it is proper for the court to proceed as if the child is an “Indian child” where the formal definition of “Indian child” is not met, but where it is likely that the child will be an “Indian child” if the Agency provides enrollment assistance. Our brief argues that assistance in enrolling a child is an affirmative obligation of the Agency. Our brief also argues that it is proper to apply ICWA in cases where it is likely that the child will be enrolled once the administrative/bureaucratic process is complete, even where the child does not currently meet the definition of an “Indian child.”

A number of California tribes have previously expressed an interest in becoming a signatory to this brief. Tribes may do so by having an authorized tribal representative fax or email CILS at: (707) 443-8913 or lsvoboda@calindian.org. In order to submit the brief to the Court on time, ALL RESPONSIVE FAXES OR EMAILS MUST BE RECEIVED BY 9:00 AM ON FRIDAY, MAY 1ST.

Click here to view appeal on Turtle Talk

California Appeals Court Finds Court Rules about Indian Children Inconsistent with Legislative Intent

The children were eligible for membership at Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The trial court ordered DHHS to help enroll the children as active efforts. DHHS appealed. The appellate court found that both ICWA and California state law limited the definition of Indian child (member, or bio child of a member and eligible), and if the children did not fit in that definition, the laws did not apply. As such, the rules were beyond the scope of the Judicial Counsel to pass.

If you have additional questions call or email Laura Svoboda at our Eureka office: (707) 443-8397 or lsvoboda@calindian.org.

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