Arizona Court of Appeals ICWA Notice Case


I always find it useful when parts of the transcript make it into the appellate court decision:

During her direct examination at trial, Mother testified as follows:

Q. You advised me earlier that you are affiliated with the Sioux tribe; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And tell us, if you will, what your affiliation is?

A. My mom is Oglala, enrolled in the Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota, and my dad is an enrolled member in Spirit Lake in North Dakota.

Q. Okay. And are you an enrolled member?

A. Not yet, but I can be.

Q. You’re eligible for enrollment?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know whether your daughter would be eligible [for] enrollment?

A. Yes, she would.

So of course DCS notified both the Oglala Sioux and Spirit Lake, oh wait, what was that?

DCS does not argue that Mother’s testimony was insufficient to provide notice that H.N. might be an Indian child under ICWA. Instead, DCS argues that, “by the time Mother testified about her tribal affiliation, there were no [pending] proceedings for the tribe to intervene in.” That argument, however, ignores the fact that Mother’s testimony occurred before the motion to terminate was granted. Accordingly, DCS’ argument regarding the application of ICWA to “post-termination proceedings” is inapplicable. Cf. Gila River Indian Cmty. v. Dep’t Child Safety, 242 Ariz. 277 (2017) (discussing transfer of matters under ICWA both pre- and posttermination).

¶13 DCS’ argument also does not address case law from other jurisdictions directing that “[n]otice is mandatory, regardless of how late in the proceedings a child’s possible Indian heritage is uncovered” and that the notice requirement in ICWA cannot be waived by a parent. See In re Suzanna L., 127 Cal. Rptr. 2d 860, 866 (App. 2002) (quoting In re Kahlen W., 285 Cal. Rptr. 507, 513 (App. 1991)); accord Gila River Indian Cmty., 242 Ariz. at 292 ¶ 27 (noting “courts have historically been reluctant to imply a waiver of Indian rights under ICWA”).

(emphasis added)

The appellate court remanded the case for proper notice under ICWA.

Cert Petition Filed in ICWA Case out of Arizona

Here is the petition in S.S. v. The Colorado River Indian Tribes. Goldwater has filed cert on an Arizona Court of Appeals case the Arizona Supreme Court refused to review. Here is the Court of Appeals case.

Sorry for the delay in posting–I’m spending a few days trying to forget Goldwater exists.

Transfer to Tribal Court Case out of the Arizona Court of Appeals


This decision from last Thursday highlights the 1911(b) explicit transfer provision, which allows for foster care and termination proceedings to be transferred, but is silent on pre-adoptive or adoptive proceedings. The final footnote may provide some guidance in the future:

18  Because the Community sought transfer of jurisdiction only under the authority of 25 U.S.C. § 1911(b), we do not analyze or address the propriety of such a motion under any other authority. See In re Welfare of the Child of R.S. & L.S., 805 N.W.2d at 57 (Dietzen, J., concurring) (“The court’s consideration of those issues is dictum and not binding on the
court.”). See also 2016 BIA Final Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. 38822, J(1), Response to Comment (“Parties may request transfer of preadoptive and adoptive placement proceedings, but the standards for addressing such motions are not dictated by ICWA or these regulations. Tribes possess inherent jurisdiction over domestic relations, including the welfare of child citizens of the Tribe, even beyond that authority confirmed in ICWA. . . . Thus, it may be appropriate to transfer preadoptive and adoptive proceedings involving children residing outside of a reservation to Tribal jurisdiction in particular circumstances.” (citations omitted)); 25 U.S.C. § 1902 (providing a Congressional declaration of policy stating that ICWA establishes “minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture”).

Burden of Proof ICWA Case Out of Arizona Court of Appeals


Based on these authorities, we are persuaded that the
heightened standard of “clear and convincing” evidence should apply when Arizona courts decide whether good cause exists to deviate from ICWA foster or adoptive placement preferences. Because it is unclear what standard of proof the juvenile court applied here, we remand the good cause determination for reconsideration. Although we need not reach some of the parties’ remaining arguments, we address certain issues likely to recur on remand.

The authorities cited are 2015 Guidelines and case law from across the states.

Arizona COA Decides ICWA Expert Witness Appeal

Here is the unpublished opinion in Charlotte G. v. Dept. of Child Safety.

An excerpt:

Charlotte G. (“Mother”) appeals the juvenile court’s order
terminating her parental rights to B.G. and W.G. (collectively, “the
children”). The children are members of the Gila River Indian Community
(“Tribe”).1 On appeal, Mother does not contest that the statutory grounds
for severance were proven, that there was a substantial likelihood that she
would not be capable in the near future of exercising proper and effective
parental care and control, and that severance of the relationship was in the
best interests of the children. Mother contends, however, that the juvenile
court erred in terminating her parental rights because the State failed to
prove additional elements necessary to terminate a parent-child
relationship under the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”). For the
following reasons, we affirm.

Arizona COA Decides that Navajo Nation Elected Officials Not Eligible for State Unemployment Insurance

Here is the opinion in Robbins v. Arizona Dept. of Economic Security:

Robbins v Ariz Dept Econ Sec Opinion

We posted a brief from this case back on random brief day in February.

Turtle Talk Presents … Random Brief Day

Not much going on, so how about a few random briefs?

Here’s a brief from the State of Arizona in the Arizona COA defending a decision to deny state unemployment benefits to a former Navajo Nation elected official who is unemployed after losing an election (Robbins v. Arizona Dept. of Economic Security):

Arizona Brief

And here’s a SCT cert petition from a North Carolina company alleging that the state’s ban on a form of gaming advertisements are violative of the First Amendment (Sandhill Amusements Inc. v. North Carolina):

Sandhill Cert Petition