ICWA Pro Hac Vice Rule Proposal in Wisconsin


Our Pro Hac Vice page is here.

Wisconsin Proposed Pro Hac Vice Waiver for Tribal ICWA Attorneys

In the Matter of the Petition to Amend Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule 10.03(4), Regarding Pro Hac Vice Admission for Nonresident Counsel Appearing in Matters Involving the Indian Child Welfare Act, Petition 18-04

Proposal to Amend WI SCR 10.03(4) to add the following:

(g) Nonresident counsel is not required to associate with an active member of the State Bar of Wisconsin and is not subject to any application or fees for pro hac vice admission if they establish to the satisfaction of the Court that:

  1. The nonresident counsel seeks to appear in a Wisconsin court for the limited purpose of participating in an “Indian child custody proceeding” as defined by s. 48.028(2)(d), or an “Indian juvenile custody proceeding” as defined by s. 938.028(2)(b), pursuant to the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act (WICWA) s. 48.028, or a “child custody proceeding” as defined by 25 U.S.C. § 1903, pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.; and
  2. The nonresident counsel represents an Indian Tribe pursuant to 25 USC § 1911(c), s. 48.028(3)(e), or s. 938.028(3)(e); and
  3. The Tribe has affirmed the child is an Indian child defined by 25 USC § 1903(4) and s. 48.02(8g) or an Indian Juvenile as defined by s. 938.02(8g).

As background: WA, MN, OR, MI, & NE all have rules/laws making pro hac vice easier for tribal attorneys in ICWA cases. AZ and CA have pending rules.

To submit a comment:

  1. Submitting a comment to a rules petition
    A comment to a pending rule petition shall be submitted in hard copy (include one original and nine copies). The paper copies shall be mailed to the Clerk of the Supreme Court, P.O. Box 1688, Madison, WI 53701.

A person submitting a comment shall e-mail an electronic copy of the comment in MS Word format MS Word to the Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court at clerk@wicourts.gov and carrie.janto@wicourts.gov.

  1. Contents of comment
    The comment shall identify the rule petition to which it relates.

III. Service of comment on petitioner
A copy of the comment shall be forwarded to the petitioner in a timely manner. See the rule petition for the name and contact information of petitioner.



Minnesota Adopts an ICWA Best Practice in its Comments to Court Rules


2014 Advisory Committee Comment
With respect to [Rule 34.03] subdivision 1(j) and (l), in cases where the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is unclear, such as when it is not yet known whether the child is or is not an Indian child, it is advisable to proceed pursuant to the requirements of the ICWA unless or until a determination is otherwise made in order to fulfill the Congressional purposes of the ICWA, to ensure that the child’s Indian tribe is involved, and to avoid invalidation of the action pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 1914 and Rule 46.03.”

A court can’t go back and apply heightened standards after the fact. Makes more sense to do so from the beginning. No child is hurt by applying higher standards to their case, even if it ends up ICWA ultimately does not apply.

Thanks to AS.

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

Decision (a rare published ICWA decision for CA).

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.

The rules:

Rule 5.482(c) states, “If after notice has been provided as required by federal and state law a tribe responds indicating that the child is eligible for membership if certain steps are followed, the court must proceed as if the child is an Indian child and direct the appropriate individual or agency to provide active efforts under rule 5.484(c) to secure tribal membership for the child.”
Rule 5.484(c) states, “In addition to any other required findings to place an Indian child with someone other than a parent or Indian custodian, or to terminate parental rights, the court must find that active efforts have been made, in any proceeding listed in rule 5.480, to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family, and must find that these efforts were unsuccessful.
“(1) The court must consider whether active efforts were made in a manner consistent with the prevailing social and cultural conditions and way of life of the Indian child’s tribe.

(2) Efforts to provide services must include pursuit of any steps necessary to secure tribal membership for a child if the child is eligible for membership in a given tribe, as well as attempts to use the available resources of extended family members, the tribe, tribal and other Indian social service agencies, and individual Indian caregivers.”