2019 State Court Cases
Last updated: May 21, 2019
Next update should be ready by: May 30, 2019
Recently Added Cases:
In the Interest of M.T.R., a Child
2019 WL 2144685
Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (14th Dist.)
May 16, 2019
Legal Topics: Indian Child Welfare Act - Application of
State of Minnesota v. Randy Lee Thompson
Materials via TurtleTalk
2019 WL 2079426
Court of Appeals of Minnesota
May 13, 2019
Legal Topics: Criminal Jurisdiction; Arrest
The People of the State of Colorado, In the Interest of Z.C., a Child, and Concerning S.C.
2019 WL 2042014
Colorado Court of Appeals, Division A.
May 9, 2019
Legal Topics: Indian Child Welfare Act - Notice
2019 WL 1970066
No. 2180005, 2180006 and 2180030
Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama.
May 3, 2019
Legal Topics: Indian Child Welfare Act - Expert Witnesses
Navajo Nation v. Department of Child Safety
2019 WL 1723574
No. 1 CA-JV 18-0276
Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division 1.
April 18, 2019
*Synopsis: After child, a member of a Native American tribe, was removed from biological mother's care by Department of Child Safety, mother moved to appoint child's foster placement, who was not affiliated with child's family or tribe or any Native American organization, as child's permanent guardian, and tribe indicated that mother or Department would need to provide expert witness to testify regarding child's placement, as required by Indian Child Welfare Act. The Superior Court, Maricopa County, Arthur T. Anderson, J., without hearing testimony from qualified expert witness, found good cause to place child in non-ICWA-preferred placement, and appointed child's foster placement as her permanent guardian. Tribe appealed.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Howe, J., held that:
1) provision of ICWA prohibiting courts from placing children who are members of tribes into foster placement without first hearing expert testimony applied, and
2) mother's proposed expert witness was not qualified.
Vacated and remanded.
People in Interest of E.T.
2019 WL 1716407
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
April 17, 2019
*Synopsis: In child protection proceeding involving child who was an Indian child under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the Circuit Court, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Pennington County, Matthew M. Brown, J., granted tribe's motion to transfer jurisdiction to tribal court. Counsel for child petitioned for permission to take intermediate appeal, which petition was granted.
*Holdings: The Supreme Court, Salter, J., held that evidentiary hearing was required prior to denial of motion to transfer proceeding to tribal court.
Reversed and remanded.
Related News Stories: Supreme Court nixes transfer of child abuse and neglect case to tribal court (Rapid City Journal) 4/24/19
Mitchell v. Preston
2019 WL 1614606
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
April 16, 2019
*Synopsis: Following extensive litigation in child custody action, 2018 WY 110, 426 P.3d 830, father, an Indian tribe member who kept child on reservation, filed motion to establish jurisdiction in tribal court and motion for change of venue, seeking an order relinquishing permanent child custody jurisdiction to the tribal court. Mother, who was not a member of the tribe and who had been awarded primary custody of child, filed motion to strike. The District Court, Sheridan County, Norman E. Young, J., granted mother's motion, and father appealed.
*Holdings: The Supreme Court, Kautz, J., held that:
1) Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply, and
2) even assuming ICWA applied, tribal court's emergency orders under Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) did not give tribal court jurisdiction to make permanent custody decisions.
In Re.: A.G. A Minor Child [Appeal by Father]
2019 WL 1567817
Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga County.
April 11, 2019
Legal Topics: Indian Child Welfare Act - Notice
Smith v. State
2019 WL 989399
Court of Appeals of Alaska.
March 1, 2019
*Synopsis: Defendant was convicted in the Superior Court, Second Judicial District, Kotzebue, Timothy Dooley, J., of attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery, and third-degree assault. Defendant appealed.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Mannheimer, C.J., held that:
1) administrative rule did not abridge a constitutional right, and
2) defendant was entitled to evidentiary hearing.
Affirmed in part and remanded.
Matter of A. J. M. R.
296 Or.App. 356
Court of Appeals of Oregon.
February 27, 2019
*Synopsis: Father appealed judgment of the Circuit Court, Linn County, 17JU10855, Daniel R. Murphy, J., establishing juvenile court's jurisdiction over daughter.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to provide notice to father of pending involuntary child custody proceeding, as required by Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and therefore juvenile court erred in assuming jurisdiction over daughter.
Long v. Snoqualmie Gaming Commission
2019 WL 912132
Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1.
February 25, 2019
*Synopsis: Former chief executive officer (CEO) of Native American tribe's casino brought action against tribe's gaming commission, alleging commission violated terms of a settlement agreement by refusing to rescind revocation of former CEO's gaming license. The Superior Court, King County, No. 17-2-01853-8, Jeffrey M. Ramsdell, J., dismissed action. Former CEO appealed.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Leach, J., held that:
1) any waiver by tribe of its own sovereign immunity, without more, did not also necessarily waive commission's sovereign immunity in matters falling within exclusive purview of commission, and
2) settlement agreement executed between tribe and former CEO, waiving tribe's sovereign immunity for purposes of resolving any dispute arising under agreement, did not constitute waiver of immunity of commission.
Related News Stories: Snoqualmie Tribe celebrates 'Land into Trust' decision (Snoqualmie Valley Record) 2/25/19
The People ex rel. Becerra v. Huber
2019 WL 912147
Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4, California.
February 25, 2019
*Synopsis: State brought enforcement action against owner of tobacco smokeshop, who was a member of Native American tribe, alleging violation of Unfair Competition Law (UCL). The Superior Court, Humboldt County, No. DR110232, W. Bruce Watson, J., granted summary adjudication to State and entered permanent injunction. Owner appealed.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeal, Streeter, Acting P.J., held that:
1) exercise of state court jurisdiction over enforcement action did not infringe tribal sovereignty, supporting application of default rule of existence of general jurisdiction on part of state court, and
2) State's enforcement of UCL was not preempted under doctrine of Indian preemption.
Matter of S.R.
2019 WL 758839
Supreme Judicial Court of Montana.
February 21, 2019
*Synopsis: Department of Public Health and Human Services petitioned to terminate mother's parental rights to children. The District Court, Silver Bow County, Brad Newman, J., terminated rights. Mother appealed, arguing that District Court had possessed reason to know that children could have been eligible for tribal enrollment so as to trigger Indian Child Welfare Act's (ICWA) tribal notice and enrollment eligibility determination requirements, yet District Court had failed to observe requirements.
*Holdings: The Supreme Court, Dirk Sandefur, J., held that:
1) the District Court had possessed reason to know that children could have been eligible for tribal enrollment, triggering ICWA requirements, but
2) the District Court's failures to comply with ICWA had been harmless.
Interest of D.E.D.I
2019 WL 386795
Court of Appeals of Texas, Eastland.
January 31, 2019
*Synopsis: Father appealed order of 446th District Court, Ector County, terminating his parental rights to Indian child.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Jim R. Wright, Senior Chief Justice, held that trial court was able to determine that Indian tribe's representative was qualified as an expert witness.
In re Interest of Audrey T.
26 Neb.App. 822
Court of Appeals of Nebraska
January 29, 2019
*Synopsis: State filed an adjudication petition alleging that mother was unable to meet child’s basic needs for care and protection, mother used inappropriate discipline, and mother’s mental-health issues put child at risk of abuse and/or neglect. The County Court, Scotts Bluff County, James M. Worden, J., entered an order placing temporary custody of child with Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services. State then filed motion to terminate mother's parental rights. The County Court granted the motion. Mother appealed.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Welch, J., held that:
1) there was clear and convincing evidence that child had been in an out-of-home placement for 15 or more months of the most recent 22 months, as statutory ground for termination of mother's parental rights;
2) opinion testimony from qualified expert supported finding that continued custody by mother was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to child;
3) evidence showed that termination of mother's parental rights was in child's best interests; and
4) evidence established that tribe in which child was enrolled was given proper notice of proceedings.
In re. L.D. v. M.J.
2019 WL 910996
Court of Appeal, Sixth District, California.
January 24, 2019
*Synopsis: County department of family and children's services filed juvenile dependency petition on behalf of nine-year-old child who may have Native Alaskan ancestry. The Superior Court, Santa Clara County, No. 17JD024833, Michael L. Clark, J., found sufficient notice was sent, pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), to Athabascan Indian tribe in Alaska before declaring child dependent. The court subsequently issued restraining order protecting child from mother, and mother was later found to have violated restraining order by possessing or having access to handgun. Mother appealed to challenge the ICWA notice.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeal, Grover, J., held that mother's challenge to ICWA notice was untimely.
Chemehuevi Indian Tribe v. Mullally
2019 WL 273041
No. 1 CA-CV 18-0175
Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division 1
January 22, 2019
Legal Topics: Attorneys' Fees
*Synopsis: In child protection proceedings, the County Court, Platte County, Frank J. Skorupa, J., approved a change in permanency objective for mother and each of her six minor children from reunification to guardianship. Mother appealed, and appeals were consolidated.
*Holdings: The Court of Appeals held that:
1) orders issued by juvenile court approving change in permanency objective affected mother's substantial rights and, thus, were final appealable orders;
2) changing permanency objective for mother and each of her six minor children from reunification with concurrent plan for guardianship to guardianship only was in children's best interests; and
3) State made adequate active efforts prior to seeking change in permanency objective with respect to Indian children.
Affirmed in part and vacated in part.
In re Children of Mary J.
2019 WL 81125
Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.
January 3, 2019
*Synopsis: The Department of Health and Human Services filed a child-protection petition alleging neglect by both the mother and the father of several children who were living with mother in an Indian reservation. The Department then requested a preliminary protection order, seeking custody of the children. The Calais District Court, D. Mitchell, J., allowed the Department to seek foster placement. Following Department's removal of the children from their mother's care, tribe filed motion to intervene. The District Court denied the motion. Tribe appealed.
*Holdings: The Supreme Judicial Court, Jabar, J., held that:
1) removal of children from mother's custody was not impermissible state regulation of the internal tribal matter of who had the right to reside within Indian territories, and
2) tribe's participation in child-custody case was not necessary to protect the tribe's sovereign power to decide who could and could not reside within its territory.
In re Shirley T.
2019 WL 81122
Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.
January 3, 2019
*Synopsis: In child protection proceeding involving children deemed to be Indian children under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), parents and Indian tribe moved to transfer jurisdiction of matter to Tribal Court. The Portland District Court, Powers, J., denied the motions. Parents appealed.
*Holdings: The Supreme Judicial Court, Gorman, J., held that trial court had “good cause,” within meaning of ICWA, not to transfer matter to Tribal Court.
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