Justia Native American Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father to their child pursuant to Maine's Child and Family Services and Child Protection Act, 22 Me. Rev. Stat. 4001 to 4099-H, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C.S. 1901-1963, holding that the district court did not err in terminating the parents' parental rights and denying their other requests for relief. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err by concluding that active efforts had been made to prevent the breakup of the Indian family, as required by ICWA; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the court's determination that Mother was parentally unfit within the meaning of state law; (3) the district court did not err in denying Father's two motions to transfer the case to the Penobscot Nation Tribal Court; and (4) the district court did not err in denying Father's post-judgment motion alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. View "In re Child of Radience K." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the district court denying the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s motion to intervene in a child protective action involving nonmember children following the removal of the children from the custody of their mother, who resided in the Tribe’s territory, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the Department of Health and Human Services’ removal of the children from the Tribe’s territory was not impermissible state regulation of an “internal tribal matter.” Following the Department’s removal of the children from their mother’s care, the Tribe filed a motion to intervene, alleging that Me. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2) provided for intervention of right because the removal of the children from the Tribe’s territory constituted impermissible state regulation of an internal tribal matter. The court denied the motion to intervene. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the removal of the children did not constitute impermissible state regulation of an internal tribal matter; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the Tribe’s motion for permissive intervention. View "In re Children of Mary J." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellants’ and the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s motions to transfer jurisdiction of this child protection matter to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. 1901-1963, holding that the district court properly found that there was good cause within the meaning of ICWA not to transfer the matter to the Tribal Court. There was no dispute in this case that these were child custody proceedings to which ICWA applied, the children were Indian children within the meaning of ICWA, and the children did not reside on the reservation in South Dakota. Here, the district court focused on the difficulty in the presentation of evidence that would occur if jurisdiction were transferred from Maine to South Dakota. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court’s denial of the motion to transfer was supported by its findings and conclusions and that the court’s analysis of the geographical challenges posed by a potential transfer was supported by ample evidence, contained no legal errors, and did not represent an abuse of discretion. View "In re Children of Shirley T." on Justia Law