Nebraska COA Decides ICWA Tribal Court Transfer Case

Here is the opinion.

An excerpt:

Even if we had not found that Sellers failed to object to the parents’ motion to transfer in the county court, his assignment of error has no merit. He argues that the court abused its discretion by ordering a transfer to the tribal court when good cause was shown not to transfer the case. But the burden to prove good cause was on Sellers. See In re Interest of Leslie S. et al., 17 Neb. App. 828, 832, 770 N.W.2d 678, 682 (2009) (“party opposing a transfer of jurisdiction to the tribal courts has the burden of establishing that good cause not to transfer the matter exists”). And per our standard of review, we review the county court’s decision for abuse of discretion. There was testimony that the tribal court could convene for any necessary hearings in Hall County. Indeed, commentary to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ guidelines specifically referred to the ability of tribal courts to alleviate hardship on the parties and witnesses “by having the court come to the witnesses” or by appointing members of the tribe who live outside of the reservation as tribal judges. Guidelines for State Courts; Indian Child Custody Proceedings, 44 Fed. Reg. 67,584, 67,591 (Nov. 26, 1979) (not codified). Furthermore, the tribal representative testified that the tribal court could always receive testimony from witnesses in Hall County via telephone or documentary evidence. Given this evidence, the county court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Sellers failed to prove that there was good cause to deny the transfer based on hardship to potential witnesses.

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