Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Judicial Codes
TITLE VI - JUVENILES
CHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS
[Digitizer's note: Resolution No. 2002 - 47 refers to a repeal of Title VI (1), Juveniles (First Choice).]
Section 1. Jurisdiction:
The Coushatta Tribal Juvenile Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving Indian children covered by this Title.
Section 2. Definitions:
(a) Child. Any Indian under 18 years of age.
(b) Abused child. A child who has suffered or is likely in the immediate future to suffer serious physical or emotional harm as a result of a parent or custodian inflicting or failing to make reasonable efforts to prevent the infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child including excessive corporal punishment or an act of sexual abuse or molestation.
(c) Abandoned child. A child whose parent or custodian is not identifiable or, if known, has made no reasonable effort to care for, or arrange substitute care for, the child for a period of six months or more.
(d) Neglected child. A child:
(1) Whose parent or custodian fails to provide the minimal care which a reasonably prudent parent would provide in the circumstances for the subsistence, education, and welfare of the child; or
(2) Who has special physical or mental conditions for which the child's parent or custodian neglects or refuses to provide a reasonable level of special care; or
(3) Whose parent or custodian is unable to discharge his or her responsibilities to and for the child because of incarceration, hospitalization, or other physical or mental incapacity.
A child shall not be deemed neglected if the reason for failing to provide adequate care for the child is the indigence of the parent or guardian. Minimal care shall mean provision of adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and day to day supervision. In determining whether minimal care has been provided, the Court shall apply the standards prevailing in the community.
(e) Status offender. A child.
(i) Who is subject to compulsory school attendance and is habitually truant from school without justification; or
(ii) Who has committed an offense committable only by children;
(iii) Who is habitually disobedient to the reasonable and lawful commands of the parent or custodian; or
(iv) Who habitually runs away from home; and
(v) Who the Court determines is in need of rehabilitation.
(f) Delinquent child. A child who commits an act which if committed by an adult would be in violation of any provision of Title III of this Code (Criminal Offenses.) Traffic offenses shall be deemed delinquent acts only if committed by an individual under 15 years of age.
(g) Parent. The biological parent of a child, or any person who has lawfully adopted a child. Parent shall not mean the unwed father of a child where paternity has not been established or acknowledged. Parent shall not mean any person whose parent-child relationship has been lawfully terminated.
(h) Custodian. A person or agency, other than a parent, to whom the legal custody of a child has been granted by the order of a court of competent jurisdiction or who is acting in loco parentis.
(i) Detention. The temporary, secure custody of a child in facilities designated by the court, pending a final disposition of a petition, provided that detention shall not be in a facility where the juvenile has sight or sound contact with incarcerated adult offenders.
(j) Shelter care. The temporary care of a child in a licensed child care facility designated by the Court, pending final disposition of a petition under Chapter 3 of this Title.
(k) Diversion. A course of remedial action taken in matters arising under this title designed to avoid formal court action and to serve the best interests of the child involved.
(l) Probable cause. Such facts and circumstances as would convince a reasonable person.
CHAPTER 2. TAKING A CHILD INTO CUSTODY BEFORE A COURT HEARING
Section 1. Taking a Child Into Protective Custody:
(a) Any law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe a child is a delinquent child and is likely to commit other delinquent acts unless detained, may take the child into detention. The child may be placed in an institution for delinquent children. Status offenders shall not be taken into custody without a court order.
(b) Any licensed physician, law enforcement officer, Tribal/BIA Social Services Department or designated Tribal representative, who has probable cause to believe a child is neglected or abused and will suffer physical or emotional harm if not immediately removed from the home may place the child in shelter care. Such child may be placed in a private home or temporary foster home or institution, but not in a facility where the child has sight or sound contact with alleged delinquents or incarcerated adult offenders.
(c) In no event shall a child be kept in custody without a court order for more than seventy-two (72) hours.
Section 2. Application to Court:
Any law enforcement officer, licensed physician, Tribal/BIA Social services Department, or designated Tribal representative, who takes a child into custody without a Court hearing shall (a) immediately notify the Court and make a good faith effort to notify the parents of the child and (1) within twenty-four (24) hours submit to the Court a petition under Chapter 3, Section i of this Title. If the child is taken into custody on a weekend or holiday, the individual taking the child into custody shall have 24 hours from the start of the first subsequent work day to file a petition in Court.
CHAPTER 3. COURT PROCEDURES
Section 1. Petitions:
Any person may submit to the Court a petition to have any child subject to the jurisdiction of the court declared abused, neglected, abandoned, delinquent or a status offender. Such petition shall include (a) the name, address, and telephone number of the applicant, the child and, if known, the child's parent (s) or custodian; (b) the reason (s) why the applicant believes the child is abused, neglected, abandoned, delinquent, or a status offender; (c) supporting creditable evidence, including affidavits or written statements from social workers, other child care professionals, or members of the community. The petition shall indicate whether the child is in protective custody.
Section 2. Release from Protective Custody; Social Study:
(a) Where the child is in protective custody, the Court shall immediately direct a Tribal/BIA Social services Department or designated Tribal Representative to review the petition and perform a preliminary investigation. The purpose of the investigation shall be to determine whether preventive detention is still justified under the standards set forth in Chapter 2, Section 1. The juvenile officer shall make a recommendation to the Court, which shall order the child released to the custody of the parent or custodian or order continued protective custody pending the initial hearing. The Court may also order continued protective custody pending completion of the preliminary investigation.
(b) Social Study. The appropriate Bureau of Indian Affairs or Tribal Social Services personnel or designated Tribal Representative shall conduct a social study with respect to each petition. Such study shall be undertaken before the initial hearing if possible. The social study shall if possible include interviews of the child, parent (s) or custodian and investigation of the conditions in the home. The personnel authorized to conduct a study shall submit the social study to the Court.
(c) In the case of a child who is the subject of a petition based on abuse, abandonment, or neglect, the Court shall order that a licensed physician examine the child.
(d) Informal resolution.
(1) Abandoned, neglected or abused children and status offenders. The personnel authorized may recommend counseling, treatment, or such other disposition of an abandoned, neglected, or abused child or status offender which in the officer's opinion is in the best interest of the child. Such recommendations shall be implemented, without Court action, only upon the consent of the parent (s) or custodian with the knowledge that consent is voluntary. Upon receiving consent, the personnel authorized shall inform the Court that the case has been resolved informally. Informal resolution shall not include any disposition which separates the child from the parent or custodian. Upon successful completion of the recommended program, the case shall be dismissed. No diversion program shall exceed six months.
(2) Delinquent children. In cases where the child has no previous record of delinquency and the child is alleged to have committed a misdemeanor, the personnel authorized may recommend a diversion program, including counseling or treatment, in the best interest of the child. The Court may in its discretion approve such recommendation without a hearing. A child who successfully completes the diversion program shall not be deemed a delinquent for any purpose. No diversion program shall exceed six months.
Section 3. Initial Hearing:
(a) After receiving a petition, the Court shall immediately schedule an initial hearing, to be held immediately if possible and in all cases within seventy-two (72) hours of the time a child is placed in protective custody and within seven (7) days if the child is not in protective custody. The Court shall make all reasonable attempts to notify, by telephone or other means, the child and the child's parent (s) or custodian of the time and place of the initial hearing and of the right of the parent, custodian and the child (1) to obtain counsel at their own expense, (2) to be present at the hearing, and (3) to testify, present documentary evidence, call witnesses, and ask questions of all witnesses.
(b) Prior to the initial hearing, the court shall order that the child be interviewed by a social worker, or other child care professional.
(c) The initial hearing shall be conducted informally and shall be closed to the public.
(d) If, after the initial hearing, the Court determines that there is probable cause to believe that the child has been abused, neglected, abandoned or is a delinquent or status offender, the Court may temporarily order such disposition as is appropriate under Chapter 3, Section 7 (d) of this Title, pending a fact-finding hearing. Otherwise, the case shall be dismissed.
(e) If, after the initial hearing, the Court determines that there is probable cause to believe that a child has been sexually abused, severely physically abused, or severely neglected, and the Court determined that a criminal investigation has commenced or will commence in the near future, the Court shall place the child as provided under Chapter 3 Section 7 (d) of this Title. Such placement shall remain in force until the fact-finding hearing, at which time placement shall be determined according to Chapter 3, Section 7 (d) without regard to the provisions of this subsection according to the best interests of the child.
Section 4. Guardians Ad Litem:
(a) Appointment of guardians ad litem. The Court in its discretion may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent a child in any proceedings under Chapter 2 and 3 of this Title or any criminal proceedings under Title III where the child may be a witness. The guardian ad litem shall be at least twenty-one years of age, be of high moral character and integrity, and shall not be a close relative of the child or have any other special interest in the case that would prevent the guardian from repressing the best interests of the child in an objective way. The Court may appoint the guardian ad litem at the initial hearing, Chapter 3, Section 3 of this Title, or at any other appropriate point during the proceedings, including before a petition is filed.
(b) Duties of the guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem shall meet and become acquainted with the child as soon as feasible after appointment. The guardian shall, except where the best interest of the child indicates otherwise, attend all court proceedings in the case, be present at interviews between the child and law enforcement officials, social workers, and other personnel who need to speak with the child in connection with the case, visit the child in any foster home or other court-ordered placement for the purpose of determining whether the placement is in the best interests of the child, and determine the views of the child with respect to placement and communicate those views to the Court. The guardian ad litem shall perform such other duties as the Court shall order the best interest of the child.
(c) Terms and compensation. The guardian ad litem shall continue to serve until discharged by the Court and shall be compensated as determined by the Tribal Court.
(d) Notice of court proceedings. The Court shall notify the guardian ad litem of any court proceeding at which his or her attendance is required. Notice shall be finished as provided in Chapter 3, Section 6 (b) of this Title.
Section 5. Transfer of Juvenile Proceedings:
Upon motion of petitioner or on its own motion, the Court may waive juvenile proceedings so that the child may be tried as an adult in the Tribal court where (a) the child is sixteen years of age or more; and (b) the child has previously been found to be delinquent. In determining whether the child should be tried as an adult the Court shall consider the seriousness of the' child's prior delinquency record; the possibility of rehabilitation of the child; and the effects of prior attempts to rehabilitate the child. The Court shall provide the child and the child's authorized representative with prior notice of a hearing on this issue, as provided in Chapter 3, Section 6 and shall hold a hearing as provided in this Section.
Section 6. Fact Finding Hearing:
(a) When a fact-finding hearing shall be held. The fact-finding hearing shall be held immediately following receipt of a social study or such other evidence sufficient to enable the court to make its determination. In all cases the final hearing shall be held within 30 days of the filing of the petition, unless the child or the child's authorized representative requests a postponement.
(b) Notice. The Court shall serve prior written notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing upon the child, any person authorized to represent the child, and the parent or custodian. Notice shall be served in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall also specify that the child ( and any other party served with notice ) has a right to retain counsel at his or her expense, be present, testify, present documentary evidence, call witnesses; and ask questions of all witnesses.
(c) Procedures. The child may be physically present at the fact-finding hearing in the Court's discretion, except that in delinquency cases, the child must be present. Hearings shall be closed to the public. The Court may require the testimony of a physician or child care expert based on an examination of the child. The child or his authorized representative, and the parent or custodian, may summon to produce such witnesses and relevant evidence as they may desire, and may be represented by counsel at their own expense. The Court may call such witnesses as it deems necessary.
(d) Order. If the Court shall find, after the fact-finding hearing, that (a) there is clear and convincing evidence that the child is abused, neglected, abandoned or a status offender, or (b) that there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the child is delinquent, the Court shall determine the proper disposition of the child under Chapter 3, Section 7 of this Title. Otherwise, the petition shall be dismissed.
Section 7. Disposition Hearings:
(a) When a disposition hearing shall be held A disposition hearing shall be conducted as soon as practicable after the conclusion of the fact-finding hearing. Adequate time between the hearing, not to exceed 15 working days shall be allowed to permit the Court to consider the disposition alternatives that are in the best interest of the child.
(b) Rights of the parties to the disposition hearings. All rights provided at the fact- finding hearing shall be provided at the disposition hearing. The child shall be physically present at the disposition hearing if over ten (10) years of age unless the Court determines that the child would likely suffer severe emotional harm as a result of such presence. Otherwise, the presence of the child shall be in the discretion of the Court. The Court in its discretion may confer with the child with only the guardian ad litem present in order to determine the child's desires concerning disposition.
(c) Evidence. At the disposition hearing the Court shall hear evidence and the parties shall have the right to introduce evidence on the matter of proper disposition. The Court shall consider all relevant reports submitted at the hearing in making a disposition including any reports prepared by the child and his or her representative.
(1) Best interests of the child. The Court shall make such disposition as is in the best interests of the child.
(2) Abused, neglected, or abandoned children. If the Court has found a child to have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, the Court shall order one of the following dispositions, listed in order of preference.
(i) To the custody of the parent or custodian subject to such counseling, treatment, or other services as are deemed necessary to keep the child in the home;
(ii) To the custody of a person related by blood, marriage to the child on or off the Reservation;
(iii) The custody of an approved Indian foster care home on the Reservation;
(iv) To the custody of a an approved institution on the Reservation provided that such institution cannot be used for delinquents as well; or
(v) To the custody of a non-Indian foster care home or institution off the Reservation, provided that such home or institution shall not be used for delinquent children as well.
In addition, the Court may prescribe such counseling or treatment for the custodial parents as it deems necessary.
(3) Determining and changing placements. In determining which of several relatives shall have placement of the child under subsection (2), the court shall consider their ability to provide adequate food, shelter, medical care, love and emotional support, and day-to-day supervision. The Court shall also take into account the desires of the child.
(4) Delinquents or status offenders. If a child is found to be a delinquent or a status offender, the Court shall order one of the following dispositions, listed in suggested order of preference.
(i) Probation with such conditions as the Court deems necessary;
(ii) To the custody of an approved facility for delinquents or status offenders on the Reservation; or
(iii) To an approved facility for delinquents or status offenders off the Reservation, provided under subsections (ii) and (iii) that status offenders shall not have sight or sound contact with delinquents.
(iv) Counseling to eliminate the removal of the juvenile/status offender from the home
(5) Term of commitment to facility. No order for commitment of any delinquent or status offender in any approved facility shall be for a term longer than six months or extend beyond the child's eighteenth (18th) birthday. If; after at least five months of a six-month term have elapsed, the child care professional in charge of the delinquent or status offender believes that the child needs further treatment and rehabilitation, he or she shall inform the Court and a hearing shall be held. If the Court finds that further treatment or rehabilitation is in the child's best interests, the Court shall order a further commitment of up to six months.
(6) Off-Reservation placement. Off-Reservation placement shall be used only as a last resort, where no reasonable on-Reservation placement is available. Whenever a child is placed temporarily off the Reservation, the Court shall require the party receiving the child to sign an agreement that the child will be returned to the Reservation upon the written order of the Court.
Section 8. Confidentiality:
All hearings held pursuant to this Title shall be (a) conducted in closed and private chambers; (b) the names of all children involved shall not be published; and (c) a record of all proceedings shall be made and preserved with the Court. All Court records concerning children under this Title, including social, medical and psychological reports, shall be kept confidential and shall be open for inspection only upon Court order to the following person or agencies: (1) the child; (2) the child's guardian ad litem or other representative; (3) the child's parent (s) or custodian and their representatives; (4) the authorized personnel; and (5) any other person having a legitimate interest in the case and in the performance of their duties, as determined by the Court.
Section 9. Expungement of Records:
Records of children involved in proceedings under this Title shall be physically sealed when the child reaches the age of 18 years. Upon reaching the age of eighteen (18) years, any child involved in proceedings under third Title may petition the Court to have such Court records destroyed. In any case, the Court may order such record, except those dealing with termination of parent-child relationship to be destroyed 10 years after the child reaches the age of eighteen (18) years.
Section 10 Periodic Review for Delinquents and Status Offenders in Approved Facilities:
Every ninety (90) days the Court shall hold a hearing following the procedures under Chapter 3 Section 7, to determine if the delinquent or status offender should remain in the approved facility to which he or she has been committed. If the Court finds that the child is not likely to commit additional delinquent acts or status offenders if released, the court may release the child, subject to such terms or probation as the Court deems necessary.
Section 11. Petition for Return of Abused, Neglected or Abandoned Child Removed from Parent or Custodian:
(a) The child, the child's guardian ad litem, parent or custodian may petition the Court for return of an abused, neglected, or abandoned child to the parent or custodian. Such a petition shall not be filed until three months after the order of disposition and only at six-month intervals thereafter. The petition shall be in writing, but need not be in any particular form. Grounds for return include a showing that the child would not be in danger of being abused, neglected or abandoned upon return to the parent or guardian.
(b) Upon receipt of a petition for return of a child, the Court shall order the "authorized personnel" to undertake a social study. If after consideration of the petition and social study, the court finds substantial evidence that the child may safely be returned to the home of the parent or guardian, the Court shall order and hold a hearing on the matter, following the procedures set forth in Chapter 3, Section 7.
Section 12. Periodic Review for Abused, Neglected or Abandoned Child Removed from Parent or Custodian:
Whether or not a petition for return is filed, the Court shall every ninety (90) days hold a hearing, following the procedures under Chapter 3, Section 7 of this Title, to determine if the basis for the original removal still exists. If the court finds that there is no longer clear and convincing evidence that grounds for removal exist, the Court shall order the return of the child to the parent or guardian.
CHAPTER 4 TERMINATION OF PARENT - CHILD RELATIONSHIP
The purpose of this Chapter is to provide for termination of the parent-child relationship by court order, to enable the child to be adopted by other adults. This part shall only be used in conjunction with a pending adoption proceeding.
Section 2. Who May File a Petition:
(a) A parent, with the exception of a minor parent, may voluntarily file a petition for termination of the parent-child relationship.
(b) One parent my file a petition for termination of the parent-child relationship between the other parent and the child
(c) A custodian, any other person having a legitimate interest in the child, or the Tribe, may file a petition for the termination of the parent-child relationship with respect to either or both parties.
Section 3. Contents of the Petition:
The petition for termination of the parent-child relationship shall include:
(a) The name and place of residence of the petitioner;
(b) The name, sex, date and place of birth, and residence of the child;
(c) The relationship of the petitioner to the child, if any;
(d) The names, addresses, dates and place of birth of the parents, if known;
(e) Where the child's parent is a minor, the name and address of the child's grandparents, if known,
(f) The name and address of the person having legal custody or guardianship of the child, or acting in the place of the parent of the child.
(g) The ground on which termination of the parent-child relationship is sought.
Section 4. Social Study Prior to Hearing:
When the Court receives a petition under this Chapter it shall direct authorized personnel to appropriate BIA or tribal social study service worker to prepare a social study. Such report shall be submitted to the court prior to the hearing.
Section 5. Notice:
(a) After a petition has been filed and the social study has been submitted to the Court, the court shall set the time and place for a hearing. The Court shall give notice by summonsing the petitioner, the child, the parents, custodian, and such other persons as the Court determines are necessary for the proper adjudication of the matter. Notice shall provide the date, time and place of the hearing. Notice to the child and parent (s) shall specify that each shall have the right to (1) retain counsel at his or her own expense; (2) be present; and (3) testify, present documentary evidence, call witnesses, and ask questions of all witnesses. When possible, notice shall be served as provided under Title IX, Section 2.
(b) Where service cannot be accomplished otherwise, service may be accomplished by publishing the summons, or an order or the Court directing the person to appear by a certain date in either three consecutive editions of a tribal or Reservation newspaper of general circulation or at least once each week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation published of the Reservation in the parish in which such person was last known to reside.
(c) Proof of service of the summons and petition, or of notice by publication must be filed with the Court. Where notice is by publication, such proof shall be made by filing an affidavit of the publisher or printer of the newspaper, or the publisher or printer's foreman, clerk, or bookkeeper, to which is annexed a copy of the summons or order of the Court. The affidavit shall specify the name of the newspaper in which publication was made and the dates upon which publication was made. In addition, a certificate by the Clerk specifying that a copy of the summons and petition was mailed to the person's last known address not later than ten days after the date of the first publication shall be filed.
(d) In the case of a voluntary petition by a parent to terminate his or her parental rights, the parent may waive, in writing, notice and appearance in court, provided the court is assured that the parent understands the meaning and the consequences of the termination action. Where the parent is a minor, waiver shall not be effective.
Section 6. Hearing:
The child may be physically present at the hearing, in the Court's discretion. The hearing shall be closed to the public. The Court may require the testimony of a physician or child care expert based on examination of the child. The child, the child's authorized representative, and the parent may summon or produce such witnesses or evidence as they may desire. The Court may call such witnesses as it deems necessary.
Section 7. Order:
If the Court shall find after hearing that there is clear and convincing evidence (a) that the child has continuously or repeatedly been abused, neglected, or abandoned for a period of one year or more, and (b) the services available cannot adequately reduce the likelihood of further abuse, neglect, or abandonment or there is no other way to protect the child from the risk of serious physical injury, or (c) the parent whose rights are to be terminated consents to the termination and has not withdrawn that consent for over one year, the Court shall order a termination of parental rights.
Section 8. Disposition:
A child whose parent-child relationship has been terminated under this Title shall be placed with an adoptive parent under Chapter 3, Section 3 of this Title.
Section 9. Effects of Termination Order:
All rights, duties, and obligations between the parents and the child, including the rights of inheritance, are terminated by a termination order. A termination order shall have no effect upon the child's tribal membership or quantum in Indian blood.
CHAPTER 5. OBLIGATION TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND ABANDONMENT.
Any physician, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, community health representative, mental health professional, other health professional, staff of a residential care facility or group home, school principal, teacher or teacher's aide, social worker, foster care worker, law enforcement officer, or juvenile officer having recently been abused, neglected, or abandoned as defined in Chapter 1, Section 2 of this Title, shall immediately report such abuse to a tribal official designated by the Juvenile Court and approved by the Tribal Council. Reports from persons not obligated to report are encouraged.
Section 2. Contents of Report:
The report may be made orally or in writing and shall contain as much of the following information as is known to the person making the report: the name, address, and age of the child, the name and address of the alleged perpetrator or the abuser, the nature and extent of the abuse, and any other pertinent information.
Section 3. Immunity for good faith reports: penalties for reports made in bad faith
Any person who in good faith makes a report pursuant to this Chapter or who testifies in any judicial proceeding arising from such report shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability because of such report or testimony. Any person who makes a report pursuant to this Chapter in bad faith for the purpose of harassing those identified in the report, without reasonable cause to believe the report is true, is guilty of Class B misdemeanor.
Section 4. Failure to report.
Any person failing to make a report required by this Chapter shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, except that no imprisonment shall be imposed by the Court.
Section 5. Investigation of reports.
The official to whom the report is made shall inform the tribal prosecutor. The prosecutor shall assign the case for investigation to an "authorized personnel", a BIA or Tribal social worker, a court investigator, and/or a police officer, as appropriate. If the investigation reveals probable cause that abuse, neglect, or abandonment has occurred, the procedures outlined in Chapters 2 and 3 of this Title shall be initiated.
Section 6. Record keeping.
The designated tribal official shall keep a separate file for each report of abuse received under this Chapter. The file shall include a complete record of the complaint itself, the results of all investigations, a summary of any court proceedings and any other pertinent information.
Section 7. Confidentiality.
The records described in Chapter 5, Section 6 shall be confidential, except that the Tribal Court shall have access to the case file as needed for criminal proceedings against the offender or for proceedings under Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of this Title.
CHAPTER 6. PROCEDURES OF THE COUSHATTA TRIBE WITH RESPECT TO THE INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT
Section 1. Intent of this Chapter.
The intent of this Chapter is to provide speedy and effective procedures for responding to notices and case referrals of child custody proceedings from state and tribal courts and agencies. It is in the policy of the Coushatta Tribe to accept transfer of cases and to intervene in cases where such transfer or intervention is in the best interests of the child.
Section 2. Definitions:
For purposes of this chapter, the terms "child custody proceeding", "Indian Child", and "Indian Custodian" shall have the definitions set forth in 25 U.S.C. 1902 (1) (4), and (6).
Section 3. Receipt of Referrals:
The Tribal Secretary shall be the tribal official designated to receive notice from State and Tribal Courts and agencies of pending child custody proceedings involving an Indian Child. The Tribe shall make its best efforts to notify State Courts and agencies in the local area that the Tribal Secretary has been so designated. If another tribal official receives a notice from a State or Tribe concerning a pending child custody matter, that official shall immediately give the notice to the Tribal Secretary. The Tribal Secretary shall keep a log by date and case name of all notices received. The Secretary shall then give a copy of the notice to the Clerk of Court.
Section 4. Duties of the Clerk of Court:
The Clerk of the Court, upon receiving notice as required under Chapter 6, Section 3 of this Title, shall make a record containing all essential information concerning the case, including:
a) The source of the notice;
b) The names and addresses of the child, parents, and Indian Custodian, if different from the parents;
c) The date of the referral;
d) Any deadline for responding to the notice;
e) The type of proceeding in the referring Court or agency;
f) Whether the State or Tribe is requesting that the Coushatta Tribe accept jurisdiction over the matter.
Section 5. Investigation of Referral by Chief Judge of Designee:
Following proper docketing of the referral as described in Chapter 6, Section 4 above, the Chief Judge or his designees shall initiate an investigation of the case. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the Tribe has jurisdiction and, if it does, whether the Tribe should seek transfer of the case or intervene in the case in the foreign Court or agency. The Chief Judge's designees can include appropriate tribal social services personnel.
Section 6. Determination of Tribal Membership Status Domicile and Residency and Status as Ward of the Tribal Court
a) The first objectives of the investigation shall be to determine whether the child involved is a member of the Coushatta Tribe or eligible for membership, whether the child has domicile or residence on the Reservation, and whether the child is a ward of the Tribal Court. The child shall be considered a ward of the Tribal Court if the child was removed from the custody of his/her parent or Indian custodian under Chapters 2 or 3, Title VI of this Code.
b) If the child is
(i) A member of the Tribe or eligible for membership;
(ii) Has a residence or domicile on the Reservation or is a ward of the Tribal Court, the child custody proceeding is in the tribe's exclusive jurisdiction and the Chief Judge shall immediately forward the case to the Tribal Council. The Council, if it agrees that the Tribe has exclusive jurisdiction, shall direct the Chief Judge for further investigation;
c) If the child is a member of the Tribe or eligible for membership, but neither has residence or domicile on the Reservation nor is a ward of the Tribal Court, the Tribe has concurrent jurisdiction over the case and can either request transfer of the case, intervene in the proceeding in the foreign Court or agency, or take no formal action
d) If the child is not a member of the Tribe or eligible for membership, then the Indian Child Welfare Act does not guarantee the right to have the case transferred or the right to intervene. Nonetheless, the Tribe can seek transfer of the case or to intervene in a case where it deems that such action would be in the best interests of the child as determined under the standards set forth in Chapter 6, Section 7, below.
Section 7. Best Interests of the Child:
The next objective of the investigation shall be to determine facts that will assist the Chief Judge and the Council in determining the course of action that is in the best interests of the child, taking into account that continuing contact with the child's extended Indian family and Indian heritage is a strong component of that interest. The Judge and the Council shall take into account the wishes of the child's family and the wishes of the child, where the child is of sufficient age, but these wishes need not be given controlling weight. Where possible, the investigation should include review of the case file and interviews with the parent(s) or Indian Custodian, the child, the State or Tribal Social Worker or other individual familiar with the case, and the foster parents, if any.
Section 8. Recommendation of the Chief Judge:
After the investigation is complete, the Chief Judge shall recommend to the Tribal Council that the Tribe either request transfer of the case, seek to intervene in the case, or take no formal action. The Chief Judge shall make his or her best effort to forward the recommendation to the Council within ten (10) working days of the tribe's receipt of the referral. The Chief Judge shall be responsible for requesting that the proceedings in the foreign Court or agency be stayed so that the Tribe can complete its investigation.
Section 9. Final Decision by Tribal Court:
After receipt and review of the recommendations from the Chief Judge, the Tribal Council shall make a final decision on the action to be taken. Where the Council has decided to request transfer of jurisdiction or to intervene, the Chief Judge shall immediately file or cause to be filed an appropriate petition in the Foreign Court or agency.
Section 10. Notification of Parents and Indian Custodian:
The Tribal Council shall notify the Indian child's parents, and the Indian custodian where different from the parents, of any decision to request transfer of jurisdiction or intervene. Notice shall be by certified mail, return receipt requested.Back to Table of Contents