Here is the opinion and the various briefs in In the Matter of S.B.C.:
Appellant Brief — Blackfeet Tribe
Appellant Brief — Father
Appellant Brief — Mother
Appellee Brief — Response to Father
Appellee Brief — Response to Tribe
Appellee Brief — Response to Mother
Reply — Blackfeet Tribe
Reply Brief — Father
Reply Brief — Mother
Montana SCT Opinion
N.B. (Birth Mother) and S.B.C. (Biological Father) appeal from the order entered by the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, terminating both parents’ rights to their minor child, S.B.C, Jr. (S.B.C), and granting the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division (Child Services) permanent legal custody with right to consent to adoption. The Birth Mother and Biological Father also challenge the District Court’s order denying transfer of jurisdiction to the Blackfeet Tribal Court. The Blackfeet Tribe (Tribe) has filed a cross-appeal likewise challenging the denial of its motion to transfer jurisdiction to the Blackfeet Tribal Court and the termination of Biological Father’s parental rights. We affirm.
Lastly, the Tribe argues the District Court improperly considered the socio-economic conditions of the Tribal Court. Subsection (c) of the Guidelines prohibit the consideration of the “[s]ocio-economic conditions and the perceived adequacy” of the tribal court system in making a determination of good cause. 44 Fed.Reg. 67591. In an attempt to demonstrate that the court based its decision on the inadequacy of the Tribal Court system, the Tribe draws our attention to a number of assertions the District Court made in its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The District Court remarked throughout its findings of fact and conclusions of law that the Tribe “chose to sit on its hands and delay seeking jurisdiction over [S.B.C] for tribal financial reasons.” Further, the court insinuated that the Tribe believes its children are sacred “only when it is in its best financial interests to do so.”
From the dissent:
I disagree with the majority’s analysis of the “advanced stage” guideline. The State filed its termination petition on March 6, 2013. The Tribe, having intervened early in the case, moved to transfer jurisdiction on April 10, 2013, thirty-five days later. The District Court order faulted the Tribe for seeking transfer after “all the critical court proceedings [were] completed and decisions made,” yet the District Court had not conducted a hearing nor made a decision to terminate the parents’ rights. The hearing was not held until September 10, 2013, and the order of termination was not signed until January 15, 2014, eight months after the motion to transfer was filed. This situation does not implicate the dangers the “advanced stage” rule is designed to protect against and there is no indication of manipulation by any party.
Finally, I agree with the majority that the District Court’s repeated statements that the Tribe “sat on its hands” until it had a financial reason to seek jurisdiction were inappropriate. The BIA Guidelines specifically provide that a state court cannot base the “good cause” determination on “socio-economic conditions and the perceived adequacy of tribal social services or judicial system.” 44 Fed.Reg. 67,591. These statements reflect, at best, a refusal to comply with the Guidelines and, at worst, a strong bias against the Tribe and the Tribal judicial system. Such statements have no place in the District Court’s order and were highly inappropriate.
Here is the opinion in In re Jayden D.
Because the State did not meet its burden of establishing good cause to deny transfer to tribal court, the juvenile court abused its discretion in denying Yolanda’s motion to transfer. We reverse the order of the juvenile court and remand the cause with directions to sustain the motion to transfer.
The petition of the day is:
Issue: (1) Whether the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 1901-63, prohibits a state court from considering the “best interests of the child” when determining whether “good cause” exists to defy the transfer of an ongoing child welfare case; and (2) whether ICWA requires a state court to treat a motion to terminate parental rights as a “new proceeding” for the purposes of determining whether “good cause” exists to defy the transfer of an ongoing child welfare case.
Possibly a candidate for a CVSG.
Minnesota Legislature Passes Bill to “Fix” the Minn. SCT Decision In re R.S.
HF 252, which was introduced by Rep. Susan Allen, overcame its final hurdle in the Minnesota Legislature by passing the House by a wide margin on May 10th. It passed the Senate with an equally wide margin the previous week and was signed into law on May 16th.
HF 252 reverses the affects of the Minn. SCT’s decision In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of R.S. and L.S., wherein the Court denied a transfer of jurisdiction to a tribal court in a proceeding at the pre-adoptive stage. HF 252 amends Minnesota Statute 260.771, Subd. 3 to allow for transfers of jurisdiction at all four stages of a child custody proceeding: involuntary foster care placements; termination of parental rights; pre-adoptive; and adoption proceedings. HF 252 is a tremendous accomplishment for the 11 tribes and bands in Minnesota as well as a brave and courageous action by Rep. Allen.
Our prior post on this legislation is here.
Here is the opinion in In re T.E.R.
In July 2012, mother moved to transfer jurisdiction to tribal court. The Department and the guardian ad litem (GAL) opposed the motion, arguing that good cause existed to deny the transfer because the case was at an advanced stage, and the case could not be adequately presented in the tribal court without undue hardship to the parties or the witnesses. The Tribe took no position.
Here is the petition:
Zylena R v. Elise M. Cert Petition
The questions presented:
(1) Whether ICWA prohibits a state court from considering the “best interests of the child” when determining whether “good cause” exists to deny the transfer of an ongoing child welfare case.
(2) Whether ICWA requires a state court to treat a motion to terminate parental rights as a “new proceeding” for purposes of determining whether “good cause” exists to deny the transfer of an ongoing child welfare case.
Lower court decision here
Here is the opinion in In re Zylena R.
From the court’s syllabus:
To the extent that In re Interest of C.W. et al., 239 Neb. 817, 479 N.W.2d 105 (1992), permits a state court to consider the best interests of an Indian child in deciding whether there is good cause to deny a motion to transfer a proceeding to tribal court, it is overruled.