expert witnesses

Navajo Nation v. Department of Child Safety, April 18, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Arizona)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: After child, a member of a Native American tribe, was removed from biological mother’s care by Department of Child Safety, mother moved to appoint child’s foster placement, who was not affiliated with child’s family or tribe or any Native American organization, as child’s permanent guardian, and tribe indicated that mother or Department would need to provide expert witness to testify regarding child’s placement, as required by Indian Child Welfare Act. The Superior Court, Maricopa County, Arthur T. Anderson, J., without hearing testimony from qualified expert witness, found good cause to place child in non-ICWA-preferred placement, and appointed child’s foster placement as her permanent guardian. Tribe appealed.

Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeals, Howe, J., held that:
1) provision of ICWA prohibiting courts from placing children who are members of tribes into foster placement without first hearing expert testimony applied, and
2) mother’s proposed expert witness was not qualified.
Vacated and remanded.

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.

In the Interest of K.S.D. , December 7, 2017 (North Dakota)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County Social Services filed petition to terminate mother’s and father’s parental rights to Native American children. The Juvenile Court, Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, Jon J. Jensen, J., terminated father’s parental rights, and father appealed.

Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Stacy J., Louser, District Court Judge, sitting for Jensen, J., disqualified, held that:
1) evidence supported findings that children were deprived, that deprivation would continue, and that father’s continued custody would likely result in serious emotional or physical damage to children;
2) active efforts were made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent breakup of family, as prerequisite to termination of parental rights, under Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA);
3) under ICWA, qualified expert testimony was required on whether father’s continued custody of children was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to children.

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.