Despite the Supreme Court ruling, birthdad Dusten Brown says he “will not voluntarily” return Baby Veronica to adoptive couple Matt and Melanie Capobianco, and the Cherokee tribe has unfortunately given encouragement to his stance [Tulsa World, Michael Schearer, SCOTUSBlog (high court refuses to block adoption)] “Before the hearing [in Tahlequah, Okla.], Cherokee County sheriff’s officials ordered a Tulsa World reporter to leave the third floor of the courthouse, where the hearing was to be held. The Sheriff’s Office then closed the entire courthouse to reporters, yet members of the public were allowed access to the building.” [Tulsa World] Following threats of arrest and pressure from the governor of Oklahoma, Brown has now entered mediation with the Capobiancos [Tulsa World, more coverage]
Meanwhile, although defenders of the Indian Child Welfare Act have tended to applaud its elevation of tribal interests over the best interests of actual children, the Native American Rights Fund, revealing a newfound enthusiasm for the latter, has filed a suit purportedly on Veronica’s behalf arguing that her best interests are not being taken into account in the adoption. And the girl’s biological mother, Christy Maldonado, has announced plans to file a suit asking for parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act to be struck down as unconstitutional. [Associated Press/WCIV, Indian Country Today]
P.S. I do not rush to blame Mr. Brown, who, even if erring, is erring as many of the rest of us would. I do blame the Cherokee authorities, Native American Rights Fund, and others for irresponsibly egging him on as they stake out a maximalist position on behalf of a bad law.
“They will spend 10 years and all their money on litigation because of their inability to agree on anything,” a therapist predicted accurately. Yet more unsettling: the mom leveled false abuse accusations at the dad before eventually recanting. [Winnipeg Free Press]
Four Texas women have been serving long prison terms since a 7-year-old and 9-year-old girl, nieces of one of them, accused them in a lurid tale of assault. Now, the younger accuser has grown up and recanted [Michelle Mondo, My San Antonio]:
“I want my aunt and her friends out of prison,” Stephanie, 25, said by phone last week. “Whatever it takes to get them out I’m going to do. I can’t live my life knowing that four women are sleeping in a cage because of me.”…
On and off the witness stand, the sisters changed their accounts of the timing, the use of weapons, the perpetrators and other basic details of the assault every time they told it to authorities, records show.
P.S. And another Texas recantation, of charges lodged during a bitter custody fight, the defendant has served more than 12 years of a 20-year sentence.
Horrifying Seattle Times investigation:
For a quarter century [Stuart] Greenberg testified as an expert in forensic psychology, an inscrutable field with immense power. Purporting to offer insight into the human condition, he evaluated more than 2,000 children, teenagers and adults. His word could determine which parent received custody of a child, or whether a jury believed a claim of sexual assault, or what damages might be awarded for emotional distress. …
His peers elected him their national president. But his formidable career was built upon a foundation of hypocrisy and lies.
Paging Lenore Skenazy! “Courts are rewarding ‘intensive parenting’ and making it a legal standard, particularly in custody disputes, two law professors say in a paper that will be published in the U.C. Davis Law Review.” Gaia Bernstein (Seton Hall) and Zvi Triger (College of Management School of Law, Israel) say custody law rewards parents for greater involvement in their kids’ lives even if it amounts to over-involvement. “In tort cases, courts are narrowing or eliminating the parental immunity doctrine and creating the potential for judgments against parents for inadequate parental supervision.” [ABA Journal, "Over-Parenting" on SSRN; Prawfsblawg]
Gov. Jodi Rell has signed legislation reorganizing the long-criticized system, which handles child custody matters and conservatorships as well as wills and estates; Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green had made the cause a crusade with horror stories. More: Connecticut Law Tribune (cross-posted from Point of Law).
The Times (U.K.) is running a big campaign on abuses of the family court and social services system and unjustified removal of kids from their families.