Jeff Hurd

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.

In a tightly divided decision, the South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that plaintiffs in a medical liability case may see the records of patients who are not parties to the lawsuit. Three justices say state law allows release of records as long as the patients can't be identified. But two justices say state law is clear that there are no exceptions to privilege.