Here is the complaint, to be filed today:
From the complaint:
Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) in part because officials in South Dakota and other states were removing scores of Indian children from their homes based on insufficient evidence, and in perfunctory and inadequate hearings, in violation of federal law. Yet today, despite the added protections of ICWA, officials in Pennington County, South Dakota are removing scores of Indian children from their homes based on insufficient evidence, and in perfunctory and inadequate hearings, in violation of federal law.
Attached to this complaint as “Exhibit 1” is the transcript of one such Pennington County hearing. This hearing, involving Plaintiff Madonna Pappan, her husband, and their two children, lasted little more than sixty seconds. The court did not permit the Pappans to see the petition that had been filed against them by state officials. When Mr. Pappan asked what he was permitted to discuss, the court changed the subject and, a few seconds later, terminated the hearing. The court immediately entered an order (attached as “Exhibit 2”) which found that “active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs” to the Pappans, and that taking the Pappan children away from their parents “is the least restrictive alternative available,” even though no evidence was introduced during the hearing on those issues. The order stripped the Pappans of custody over their children for at least sixty days and gave that custody to the officials who had filed the secret petition. As discussed below, Plaintiffs Rochelle Walking Eagle and Lisa Young, like many other Indian parents in Pennington County, were treated similarly during their hearings, and their children were removed from their custody. This lawsuit seeks a speedy end to such a disgraceful process.