Parks v. Simmonds
After numerous hearings, the Minto Tribal Court terminated the parental rights of Mr. Parks and Ms. Stearman and granted permanent custody of the child, S.P., to the Simmonds. Mr. Parks sued in state court, claiming, among other things, that the tribal court has no jurisdiction over him and that his right to due process was violated when the Minto Court in accordance with its traditional practices and procedures did not permit Mr. Parks' attorney to present oral argument. Based on these arguments, Mr. Parks claims that the tribal court termination order is not entitled to full faith and credit under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Simmonds argued that the termination order is entitled to full faith and credit and therefore moved to dismiss the state court action, but this motion was denied by the state trial court in November 2010. The trial court reasoned that failure to allow an attorney to present oral argument did violate Mr. Parks' due process rights. The Simmonds petitioned the Alaska Supreme Court for review. The petition was granted in March 2011 and the case was remanded to the trial court for it to make specific factual findings and legal conclusions. Briefing on remand will be concluded by May 31, 2011 and oral argument will be held on October 24, 2011. A decision is expected by early December, at which time the case will return to the Alaska Supreme Court.