Justia Native American Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
In re Guardianship of Eliza W.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the county court establishing a guardianship for an Indian child, holding that the guardianship proceeding was governed by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act (NICWA) and that the required showing under ICWA and NICWA was not made in this case.Grandmother sought to establish a guardianship for a Native American child over the objection of Mother. At the conclusion of the evidence at trial, the county court stated that it had found a sufficient basis for the appointment of Grandmother as the child's guardian. The court did not mention ICWA or NICWA in its written order appointing Grandmother as guardian for the child. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause with directions to vacate the guardianship, holding (1) ICWA and NICWA applied to the guardianship proceeding; and (2) the guardianship proceeding failed to comply with ICWA and NICWA. View "In re Guardianship of Eliza W." on Justia Law
In re Adoption of Micah H.
In vacating the adoption decree in this case, the Supreme Court addressed the proper interpretation of the relevant adoption statutes, as well as the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act (NICWA), and whether Father abandoned his child, holding that the county court erred when it failed to comply with Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-107 to 43-109 when granting the adoption.On remand from the Supreme Court, the county court found that the petitioning grandparents (Grandparents) had made active efforts to prove remedial programs designed to unite Father with his Indian child under section 43-1505(4) and that Father had abandoned his child. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the adoption decree, holding (1) the county court did not err in finding by clear and convincing evidence that Grandparents made active efforts to reunite the child with Father, in finding that Father abandoned his child for at least six months prior to his incarceration, and in finding that adoption was in the child’s best interest; but (2) the county court erroneously failed to comply with sections 43-107 to 43-109 in granting the adoption. View "In re Adoption of Micah H." on Justia Law
Kozal v. Nebraska Liquor Control Commission
The Supreme Court vacated the order of the district court vacating the order of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, which denied four beer retailers’ applications to renew their liquor licenses. The retailers were located in an unincorporated border town just across the state line from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where the sale and consumption of alcohol were prohibited. Without addressing the merits of the parties’ respective positions, the Supreme Court vacated the district court’s order, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the retailers’ petition for review because the retailers did not comply with the requirements for judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Kozal v. Nebraska Liquor Control Commission" on Justia Law
In re Adoption of Micah H.
The maternal grandparents and guardians of Child (together, Grandparents) filed a petition to adopt Child, alleging that Mother had consented to the adoption, that Father had abandoned Child, and that terminating Mother’s and Father’s parental rights was in Child’s best interests. Father, a non-Indian, answered, alleging that Child was an “Indian child” under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act (NICWA). Neither party disputed that Child met the definition of “Indian child” under those acts. The county court applied both acts, which provide heightened protection to the rights of parents and tribes in proceedings involving adoption of Indian children. Following a hearing, the county court denied the petition because it was unable to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Father had abandoned Child. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) although the ICWA and NICWA apply to this adoption proceeding, not every provision of ICWA and NICWA applies to a non-Indian parent; (2) the county court erred in applying a higher standard of proof to the abandonment element of the NICWA; and (3) the county court erred in finding that Grandparents were not required to show “active efforts” had been made to unite Father and Child. View "In re Adoption of Micah H." on Justia Law
In re Interest of Tavian B.
The juvenile court found Tavian B. to be a child who lacks proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of his parents and to be in a situation dangerous to life or limb or injurious to his health or morals. The State subsequently filed a motion to terminate the parental rights of both parents. Father filed a motion to transfer jurisdiction to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Juvenile Court pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Before the juvenile court ruled on Father’s motion to transfer, the State withdrew its motion to terminate parental rights. Thereafter, the juvenile court concluded that good cause existed to overrule Father’s motion to transfer jurisdiction to the tribal court because the proceedings were in “an advanced stage.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State did not meet its burden of establishing good cause to deny transfer to tribal court, and therefore, the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion to transfer. View "In re Interest of Tavian B." on Justia Law