Law

Court in California won't let Choctaw girl be placed with relatives






Youth from the Choctaw Nation participate in a stickball game. Photo from Facebook

An appeals court in California overturned a decision to place a Choctaw Nation girl with relatives in Utah.

The tribe and the Choctaw father initially consented to the placement of the girl in a non-Indian foster home with the goal of reunification. Although that effort failed, the tribe wanted her to be with blood relatives and a judge agreed, saying it was in her best interests.

The appeals court, however, said the judge applied the wrong legal standard under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Although the court did not outright say the girl cannot be with her Choctaw relatives, they said her "bond" with the non-Indian foster parents should be strongly considered in future proceedings.

"In this case, it is reasonably probable that the [lower] court’s decision would have been different had it applied the correct good cause standard, considering risk of harm rather than requiring the P.s to show a certainty of harm, and considering Alexandria’s best interests, including the strength and longevity of her bond to the P.s and the trauma she may suffer if that bond is broken," the ruling stated.

The case is In re Alexandria P.

Get the Story:
C.A. Orders Court to Reconsider Indian Child Placement (Metro News 8/18)

California Appellate Court Decision:
In re Alexandria P. (August 15, 2014)