Baby Girl Update 4

Updates in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Ongoing Adoption Case

Here is the latest update in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl legal battle. On August 5, 2013 the South Carolina Family Law Court issued an order for the immediate transfer of Baby Girl Veronica to the adoptive parents and suspension of the Transition Order. The order was issued as a result of the father’s and his representatives’ failure to attend a transition meeting held on August 4, 2013. According to the court, the Transition Order provides that if any party fails to comply with the order, the court retains jurisdiction to suspend the order and take further action in the case. In light of the final Decree of Adoption, the court found that Baby Girl Veronica is being unlawfully withheld from her lawful parents and referred the matter to the County Solicitor’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office for prompt action. The order is also being referred to the father’s National Guard commanding officer. The court requests that the appropriate court in the State of Oklahoma order the father and any person having physical custody of Veronica to appear in an Oklahoma proceeding with the child. Finally, the court has directed legal counsel for the father to submit a letter to the court informing it of the whereabouts of the father and Veronica, the father’s intent to comply with the order, and their personal efforts to enforce compliance.

There has been no update on the status of the South Carolina Federal District Court action filed by the Native American Rights Fund action on behalf of Veronica seeking to protect her rights to due process.

California Indian Legal Services will continue to keep you updated on the development in the Baby Girl case.

Baby Girl Update 3

Updates in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Ongoing Adoption Case

Here is the latest update in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl legal battle. On July 30, 2013 the Native American Rights Fund filed suit in the Federal District Court of South Carolina to protect the civil rights of Baby Girl Veronica who is alleged to be denied her rights to due process in the South Carolina courts. The filing comes after the South Carolina Supreme Court issued two controversial orders to the Family Law Court calling for the removal of Veronica from her father and transferring her to the adoptive couple without a hearing on what is in her best interest. The complaint is supported by a national statement of support of Veronica’s civil rights, signed by child welfare workers, adoption advocates, legal authorities, tribal governments and Native American advocacy groups. California Indian Legal Services, California tribes, California Indian law firms, and the California Association of Tribal Governments all signed the statement of support.

Yesterday, August 1, 2013 the Family Law Court issued an order granting the adoption petition of the adoptive couple and approving a transition plan. The Family Law Court’s orders are under seal and not available to the public. The hearing appears to be premature in light of the fact that the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to issue an order today, August 2nd, on whether to grant the Cherokee Nation’s and Dusten Brown’s request for a stay of the Family Law Court hearing on the final adoption until a “best interest of the child” hearing can be held. The adoptive couple filed their opposition to the Supreme Court stay on July 30, 2013.

California Indian Legal Services will continue to keep you updated on the development in the Baby Girl case.

Baby Girl Update 2

Updates in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Ongoing Adoption Case

The legal battle continues in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl case. As previously reported, the South Carolina Supreme Court has remanded (sent) the case back to the Family Law Court with strict instruction to proceed with the adoption of Baby Girl Veronica by the adoptive parents. Veronica’s father, Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation filed a request for reconsideration with the South Carolina Court, which was denied on July 24, 2013.

On the same day Veronica’s biological mother filed a complaint in the Federal District Court of South Carolina against Attorney General Eric Holder seeking a declaration that the Indian Child Welfare Act was unconstitutional.

On July 25, 2013 Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation filed a request with the United States Supreme Court seeking a stay of the South Carolina Supreme Court order and requesting the Supreme Court to order the state court to conduct a “best interest of the child” hearing before a final adoption order is issued. The Supreme Court has ordered the adoptive parents to file a response to the request to stay by Friday August 2, 2013.

The National Congress of American Indians, the Native American Rights Fund and the National Indian Child Welfare Association have issued a “Statement of Support for Protection of the Right of Baby Veronica and All Children to a Hearing to Determine Their Best Interest”. All tribes, tribal organization and interested parties are encouraged to read and sign the Statement by contacting Thom Wallace, Senior Director of Communications at NCAI at twallace@ncai.org – include in your email your intention to support and the following information: the name of the executive of your organization/supporting entity, title, and organization.

California Indian Legal Services will continue to keep you updated on the development in the Baby Girl case.

Baby Girl Update post- Supreme Court Decision

New Developments in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Ongoing Adoption Case

There have been major developments is the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (Veronica) case since it was remanded to the South Carolina Supreme Court. On July 17, 2013 the South Carolina Court ordered the Family Law Court to proceed with the adoption of Veronica by the adoptive parents. The South Carolina Court order bars the Family Law Court from holding any further proceedings to determine what is in the “best interest” of the Veronica and that the Family Law Court is not to entertain any further objections filed by the parties opposing the adoption. This ruling seems to clear the path for the adoptive couple to adopt Veronica. The Cherokee Tribe and Dusten Brown, Veronica’s biological father, have petitioned the South Carolina Court to reconsider its order and remand the case to the Family Law Court for a hearing on the “best interest” of Veronica given the changed circumstances of the case.

In addition to filing a petition for reconsideration with the South Carolina Court, Dusten Brown and his wife filed for adoption of Veronica in Oklahoma state court and Dusten’s wife and his parents also filed for adoption in the Cherokee Nation’s Tribal Court. On July 23, 2013 the Tribal Court issued an order granting Dusten’s wife and his parents joint custody of Veronica. The Tribal Court’s order was necessary due to the fact that Dusten has been mandated to attend National Guard training as of July 22, 2013.

Also in response to the South Carolina Court’s order, the Native American Rights Fund, the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Child Welfare Association have vowed to assist the Brown family and the Cherokee Nation in protecting Veronica’s civil rights. NARF, Executive Director John Echohawk confirmed, “… I have instructed my legal staff to work with local counsel in South Carolina and Oklahoma to determine our best legal recourse through the federal courts to protect the rights of Baby Veronica. In this case, we strongly believe that federal civil rights laws are being violated….”

California Indian Legal Services will continue to keep you updated on the developments in the Baby Girl case.

Announcing

Our New Executive Director

Dorothy ED

 

Senior Staff Attorney, Dorothy Alther has been selected as the new Executive Director for California Indian Legal Services.

Upon accepting the position Ms. Alther noted,

I am honored to have been offered this opportunity to continue to work for CILS in a new capacity. I look forward to the challenges and rewards that come with being the Executive Director of a program that has a long history of serving California Tribes, tribal members and tribal communities.

My vision for CILS is to encourage and support my attorney and advocate staff to be at the forefront of issues facing our client community. Working collectively as a team we can make a difference. By helping build strong tribal infrastructure we can help tribes and the members of the community address problems without having to resort to outside governments for assistance. We will also remain committed to helping individual tribal members with legal problems that impact their health and welfare. CILS will remain a vital resource to our tribal community and continue to provide them top quality legal services.

DOROTHY ALTHER

Dorothy Alther has been an attorney with CILS for over 20 years and was in the Bishop CILS Office until she relocated to the Escondido Office in 2003. Her current work focuses on tribal issues including environmental law, housing law, tribal ordinance development, and tribal recognition. Dorothy serves as legal counsel for tribes and tribal entities, and works with tribal courts, tribal law enforcement development, and a variety of other tribal matters. Ms. Alther has been a trainer on Public Law 280, the Indian Child Welfare Act, housing law and civil and criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. Dorothy is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and graduated from University of South Dakota and earned her J.D. from Northeastern University. Ms. Alther served as Managing Attorney at DNA’s People’s Legal Services in Crownpoint, New Mexico prior to coming to CILS and served as a Tribal Attorney for the Suquamish Tribe in Washington.

In 2010, Dorothy was a recipient of the Pierce-Hickerson Award. Which honors outstanding contributions to the advancement or preservation of Native American rights. Her current work includes two cases now at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; one which will have significant impact in the area of funding tribal law enforcement under an Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act contract and the other addresses whether Congress has waived tribal immunity under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

CILS

The last ten years have been especially productive for CILS. The organization instituted various work groups to address issues specific to Native Americans, including the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA). Out of a concern for Native families, CILS and other Native advocates fought the “existing Indian family” exception which would have allowed ICWA to apply only in cases where the Indian children have significant political, cultural or social ties to the tribes. CILS supported the enactment of California Senate Bill 678 which codified federal law into California statutes – ensuring that ICWA’s protections appear in state law. Similarly, CILS advocated for a California-specific provision in the AIPRA to allow for Natives with unique Public Domain trust land interests to devise land in Indian Wills.

Tribal law enforcement and tribal courts have, in recent years, flourished within California tribal communities. CILS has led the way with trainings and conferences for California tribes developing their judicial systems. CILS work includes organizing five annual statewide tribal court conferences, drafting numerous tribal codes including peace and security codes, moderating tribal police chief meetings, hosting tribal law enforcement roundtables and offering other tribal justice assistance.

Moving into the future CILS continues to stay attuned to the changing needs of Native communities in California. Today, four field offices (Bishop, Escondido, Eureka, and Sacramento) staffed by advocates including attorneys, paralegals and intake workers serve all fifty eight counties throughout California as well as tribes outside the state.

For additional information, please contact CILS at contactcils@calindian.org.