Law | National

Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act attorney takes on another dispute






After losing in the court system, a foster family and their attorney waged a public relations campaign against the Indian Child Welfare Act. Photo by Keely Brazil / Twitter

An attorney based in Washington, D.C., continues to wage a campaign against the Indian Child Welfare Act.

In August 2014, a California appeals court confirmed that Alexandria P., who is now 6 years ago, falls under the law. Her father is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation and the tribe wants her placed with relatives in a nearby state.

Eighteen months later, Lori Alvino McGill of Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz continues to drag the case out rather than respect the tribe's authority to determine the welfare of its youth. She's representing a foster family that tried to prevent Alexandria -- also known as Lexi -- from being sent to relatives in Utah.

"In this contentious custody case, there have never been any surprises as far as what the law required. The foster family was well aware years ago this girl is an Indian child, whose case is subject to the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act," the National Indian Child Welfare Association said in a statement.

"In fact, the only surprising turn of events is the lengths the foster family has gone to, under the advice of an attorney with a long history of trying to overturn ICWA, to drag out litigation as long as possible, creating instability for the child in question," the statement read.

Alexandria P. was in fact removed from the foster family on Monday in accordance with ICWA and court orders. But McGill has succeeded in placing negative attention to the Choctaw Nation and the law through a public relations and social media campaign and has indicated that further appeals are possible.

McGill previously represented the National Council for Adoption and Building Arizona Families in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of ICWA. The case was dismissed in December.

McGill also represented the non-Indian biological mother in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a high-profile ICWA case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices, while they ruled against the biological Indian father, they did not question the constitutionality of ICWA.

Get the Story:
Girl who is part Choctaw taken from Santa Clarita foster family’s home (The Los Angeles Daily news 3/22)
California Girl Removed From Foster Family Over Her Native American Heritage (Reuters 3/22)
Native American girl, 6, removed from California foster home (AP 3/22)

California Court of Appeal Decision:
In re Alexandria P., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law (August 15, 2014)

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