Jeffrey Viken

Victoria Wicks file photo

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul has overturned a Rapid City federal court's finding that South Dakota agencies systematically violated the Indian Child Welfare Act.

In March 2013, tribes and parents brought a class-action suit against the state Department of Social Services, Seventh Circuit Court, and the Pennington County State's Attorney.

Federal Judge Jeffrey Viken found for the plaintiffs in a partial summary judgment, but state officials successfully appealed his decision to the Eighth Circuit.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more of this story.

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.