ICWA

Victoria Wicks file photo

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that South Dakota officials violated the Indian Child Welfare Act. Now the ACLU attorney who represented the plaintiffs says he plans to ask the Eighth Circuit to reconsider, even though the state officials have made the changes to custody hearings that the plaintiffs were seeking.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is now deliberating the federal lawsuit alleging unlawful handling of emergency hearings in Pennington County. Three appellate judges heard oral arguments in St. Paul on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Two tribes, along with Native parents, filed suit almost five years ago against the Seventh Circuit Court, the Pennington County State's Attorney, and the state Department of Social Services. They say officials in these agencies violate the Indian Child Welfare Act, as well as due process protections under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Five years ago tribes and parents sued state and county officials in Pennington County for violating the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from those officials' lawyers, who say their clients should not have been sued because they didn't create the questioned policies. The officials are appealing a federal judge's decision that forced changes in the way emergency hearings are held in child custody cases. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

courtesy photo

A federal judge has ordered Seventh Circuit and Pennington County officials to stop violating the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Judge Jeffrey Viken's order affects emergency hearings held within 48 hours of the removal of children from their parent or guardian's care.

The judge's order responds to a lawsuit filed in Rapid City in March 2013 and resolves seven of eight issues. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports on this latest development.

Victoria Wicks

A lawsuit filed in March 2013 alleging violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act is coming to an end in federal court in Rapid City. Plaintiffs allege the Seventh Circuit Court, the Department of Social Services, and the Pennington County State's Attorney violate the act at hearings required to be held within 48 hours after children are removed from their homes.

Parties gathered on Wednesday, Aug. 17, to hammer out what remedies are needed. But woven into the discussion was the surety that defendants will appeal to the Eighth Circuit.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

A federal judge in Rapid City has ruled that Pennington County violates the Indian Child Welfare Act in emergency abuse and neglect hearings. Judge Jeffrey Viken also found that policies and practices in the county violate the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. SDPB’s Victoria Wicks reports on the lawsuit that was filed two years ago by Native parents and tribes.

A federal judge in Rapid City has ruled that court reporters for four state circuit judges must produce hearing transcripts. The ruling filed Thursday resolves a standoff between state and federal authority in an ongoing lawsuit. Three Native parents and two tribes say state court, the Department of Social Services, and the Pennington County state’s attorney routinely violate the Indian Child Welfare Act and the 14th Amendment. They say judges conduct insufficient hearings after children are removed from their homes.

Four judges in Rapid City say a federal judge went too far in requiring them to sign orders to produce transcripts. Their response, filed this weekend in federal court in Rapid City, is the most recent action in an ongoing lawsuit claiming violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the 14th Amendment in Pennington County.

A long battle over a little girl has apparently ended. Baby Veronica is going back to South Carolina to live with her adoptive parents. The Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted an order keeping the child in Oklahoma, one of many state rulings made after the U.S. Supreme Court said the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply. The high court ruled that Veronica’s biological father, an enrolled Cherokee, had not established a parental relationship with the girl, and so there was no family connection to preserve.

Victoria Wicks

Indian tribes say the state of South Dakota takes more than 700 tribal children out of their homes every year, and the majority of them are placed with white foster families or institutions. Now tribes want the federal government to take money from the state Department of Social Services and give it to the tribes so they can run their own child protection programs. For today’s Dakota Digest, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks attended the Great Plains ICWA Summit, called by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, that is taking place this week in Rapid City.