Judge Jeff Davis of South Dakota has been found to be in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act by failing to offer due process to Indian parents and guardians. Photo: 2nd Lt. Chad Carlson / South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs
Judge in South Dakota sanctioned in Indian Child Welfare Act case
A judge in South Dakota has agreed to pay $50,000 in sanctions in an Indian Child Welfare Act case.

Judge Jeff Davis did not admit to "concealing" information sought by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, two of the plaintiffs in the case. But he agreed to pay attorney's fees for failing to turn over key documents that explain how the state courts handled proceedings involving Indian children.

One significant document was an analysis written by a law clerk to Judge Davis. It claims that tribes and Indian guardians cannot invoke ICWA in so-called "48-hour temporary custody hearings."

The analysis was used in the 7th Judicial Circuit -- which Davis headed -- to rule against tribes and Indian guardians in 100 percent of the cases involving Indian children. Contrary to the claims in the memorandum, such proceedings indeed violate ICWA, a federal judge ruled over a year ago.

"Indian children, parents and tribes deserve better," Judge Jeffrey L. Viken wrote in the historic 45-page ruling.

Judge Davis has since been stripped of his title as the presiding judge in the 7th Circuit and was rebuked in a second, unrelated case involving tribal members. And Viken has refused to reconsider his ruling amid efforts by the state to stall the case over the past year.

The clerk who wrote the ICWA analysis has been representing Judge Davis in the case, Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik.

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Circuit judge to pay $50K in Indian Child Welfare Act case (AP 4/14)

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