2021 Federal Lawyer Article Spotlight: Out of State Legal Representation in ICWA Cases

So happy to see April Olson’s article on the issue of legal representation for tribes in out of state cases. This is easily the top question I get–both from lawyers nervous about intervening out of state and also from lawyers trying to find pro hac partners. Get your state to pass a pro hac vice exception. It makes a huge difference–in 2020 alone the Indian Law Clinic saved over $500 in appellate pro hac fees due to these rules, but it makes an even bigger difference at the trial level so tribes can avoid appeals in the first place.

Read April’s article, then figure out how to get your state on board if they aren’t already. Today I’m specifically looking at Oklahoma ($350 in pro hac fees plus a complicated process via the state bar, so another $100 in expedited good standing certificate requests and overnight mailing).

All the ICWA pro hac rules are collected here.

Indian Law Section OK Bar Assc Survey for Pro Hac Vice for ICWA cases

The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Indian Law Section strategic planning committee is exploring the possibility of proposing a change to the current Oklahoma Bar Association pro hac vice rules. This potential change would allow out of state attorneys representing tribal nations to participate in ICWA state court proceedings in Oklahoma without being required to comply with the state’s pro hac vice rules.

 If you could take a few minutes to complete the survey and forward this to other attorneys you know who might be interested in participating, we would greatly appreciate it.  Thank you.

 Debra Gee, Indian Law Section – Oklahoma Bar Association

Here is the survey

Cool Pro Hac Update from Ho-Chunk Nation

HCN has updated their own tribal rules of civil procedure to allow for a pro hac waiver in tribal court for child welfare cases:

(C) Counsel not admitted to practice before the Ho-Chunk Nation Courts, but seeking to appear on behalf of a federally recognized Indian tribe in a proceeding regarding a petition for guardianship or for child protection over a child who is a member of that tribe, or eligible for membership in that tribe, shall be permitted to appear without paying any fee. Counsel representing an Indian tribe in such a matter shall also be permitted to make their appearance without filing a motion for special appearance, provided that, at that appearance, said counsel states on the record that they are admitted to practice in another state, federal, or tribal jurisdiction; that they have been in actual practice for two or more years, and takes the oath or affirmation for practice. This rule shall not apply to attorneys who appear on behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

HCN Civ. Pro. R. 16(c)

We’ve updated the pro hac page accordingly.  Obviously these are not ICWA pro hac waivers, but are related and can be used to show comity in this area.

ICWA Local Counsel Information Collection Survey

Here.

The number one request we get at the ICWA Appellate Project is for local counsel for either the tribe or an individual (Grandma, 98% of the time). These cases happen all over the country, and finding attorneys in, say, Massachusetts or Tennessee or West Virginia, can be difficult. In 2014-2015, Addie Smith at NICWA and I did one of these surveys that really needs updating and expansion (we collected fewer than 100 names), so here it is. I will compile the lists together and delete any duplicates.

So if you are someone who can help, fill this out. If you are someone who has come up to me at a conference asking HOW to help, fill it out. If you are a tribe that has regularly identified local counsel, see if they will fill this out to help other tribes. If you’re at a big firm, see if some of your non-Indian law colleagues in the states without federally recognized tribes would be willing to fill it out. If you read this and think, “oh, Kate knows I would help,” fill it out anyway, because I have limited brainspace! If you have old friends from law school who now practice in random places like, say, northern Ohio, ask THEM to fill it out. If you work at a family law clinic and have never taken ICWA cases, here is your chance to teach your students something new–fill it out! And related, If you took my ICWA class at MSU Law, FILL IT OUT.

The information we are collecting isn’t confidential, but we will only distribute it as needed for those who ask.

Here.

Caveat: yes, tribal representatives are supposed to be able to participate in ICWA cases regardless of jurisdiction. However, that can be highly dependent on local judges, and if they are denied, we often need an attorney to explain why that’s wrong. In addition, whenever possible, tribes should be represented by attorneys in state courts, and especially when the case is not going well. And if there is an appeal–well, then we really need attorneys.

Thank you all very much.

Comments Needed for Kansas ICWA Pro Hac Vice Rule Exception

The Kansas Supreme Court is seeking comments on an amendment for to the pro hac vice rule to exempt out of state ICWA attorneys from fees and associating with local counsel. Deadline for comments is March 15, 2019. Rule is here.

Kansas Supreme Court accepting public comment on Rule 116
TOPEKA—The Kansas Supreme Court is accepting public comment on amendments to Rule 116 regarding admission of out-of-state attorneys to make it easier for a tribe to exercise its rights to participate in Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings.

The Supreme Court will accept comment until 5 p.m. Monday, March 18, 2019. Comments are to be sent to rulenotice@kscourts.org with “Rule 116” in the subject line.

Amendments to Rule 116 are requested by the Kansas Judicial Council, on the recommendation of its Tribal-State Judicial Forum.

Among the amendments requested is new language that exempts an out-of-state attorney appearing in an Indian Child Welfare Act proceeding from paying a fee and from a duty to associate with local counsel. The out-of-state attorney would still need to file a motion for admission pro hac vice, accompanied by the attorney’s verified application.