A decision in a long running adoption case out of Utah.
Here are the briefs on the United States’ and TransCanada’s Motions to Dismiss Rosebud and Fort Belknap’s treaty and jurisdiction claims regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline.
- TransCanada Motion to Dismiss
- US Motion to Dismiss
- Rosebud and Fort Belknap Response
- US Reply
- TransCanada Reply
But our review involves no probing of the facts, just a pure question of law: Does a tribal court have jurisdiction under federal law to issue a civil personal protection order against a non-Indian and non-tribal member in matters arising in the Indian country of the Indian tribe? Because 18 U.S.C. § 2265(e) unambiguously grants tribal courts that power, and because tribal sovereign immunity requires us to dismiss this suit against two of the named defendants, we AFFIRM the district court’s dismissal of Spurr’s complaint.
Lower court materials here.
Tribal supreme court decision here.
While the Court of Appeals found that the grandmother didn’t have standing and properly dismissed the case, opinion notes the Tribal Court had already been exercising jurisdiction over the child in a concurrent child custody matter.
The child welfare case did not fall under ICWA because the child was not as a member or eligible for membership in the tribe, so the Court used the UCCJEA to determine jurisdiction.
We agree that the court’s denial of the request to transfer was improper. It is undisputed that the circuit court refused to hold a separate evidentiary hearing on the question of good cause. And the court’s commentary on the issue during the December 14, 2015 review hearing consists only of the following:
Well, it’s going to be the Court’s finding that the motion to transfer is not timely and it’s going to be denied in this case. I note this case is—was open last November, 2014. The [T]ribe’s apparently been aware of it for more than a year. No efforts were made to get it transferred before this time, and I—my real concern is, it just is contrary to the interests of the children to start over from square one after a year has proceeded in the matter, so that motion is going to be denied.
As noted above, in determining whether the motions to transfer were timely, the court was required to consider all the particular circumstances of this case, not simply the amount of time that had passed since the proceedings first began. See id. at 600. Although this case was over one year old, it had not yet reached final disposition. Without knowing the Tribe’s and Mother’s reasons for waiting to seek transfer, the circuit court necessarily did not consider all the circumstances of this case.
The court’s finding that transferring jurisdiction was not in the best interest of the Children is susceptible of the same criticism. As above, the absence of specific factual findings precludes meaningful review. The Tribe intervened and has been involved in this case since nearly its beginning. The Tribe has been represented at each of Mother’s review hearings. The circuit court did not identify any reason to conclude that transferring jurisdiction to the Tribe would have amounted to a “start over from square one[.]”