Cherokee Nation Files in SC Supreme Court

7:41 AM, Jul 23, 2013   |    comments
Baby Veronica
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Talequah, OK (WLTX) -- The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma filed a petition with South Carolina's Supreme Court, requesting a rehearing in the "Baby Veronica" case.

In a release published overnight on their website, the Cherokee Nation says their motion asks the SC Supreme Court to reconsider its July 17th order, which moved to terminate the parental rights of Dusten Brown, and transfer Veronica to South Carolina, without conducting a hearing on her best interests.

Brown is an active member of the Army National Guard, and an Iraq combat Veteran, and has had custody of 3 year old Veronica, his biological daughter, since 2011.

"It is very troubling that the South Carolina Supreme Court would move to terminate the parental rights of a man who has proven to be nothing but a fit and loving father, without even holding a hearing to determine what is in his own child's best interests," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "What is best for Veronica has not even been considered by the court. We pray the South Carolina Supreme Court grants our request for a due process hearing to determine what is in this child's best interests."

The petition for rehearing was based on two points: First, the South Carolina Supreme Court was unaware of facts informing its determination of jurisdiction, and second, the court overlooked Baby Girl's best interests.

On July 17th of this year, the Cherokee Nation District Court entered a temporary guardianship order, granting joint legal custody of Veronica to her stepmother, paternal grandfather and paternal grandmother. This temporary guardianship order was necessary due to Dusten Brown's mandatory National Guard training, which he is currently attending. The mandatory military training order for Brown's guard unit was issued in January 2013.

The Cherokee Nation District Court's temporary guardianship order was granted five hours before the South Carolina Supreme Court order remanding this case to Family Court to terminate Brown's parental rights.

"Dusten Brown is an Iraq combat veteran who has fought as tirelessly for his child as he did for our country. That fight began the day he learned of the birth mother's plans to place his child for adoption and continues today. Since regaining custody, he has created a loving, safe and nurturing environment for Veronica," said Chrissi Ross-Nimmo, assistant attorney general for the Cherokee Nation. "This temporary guardianship order is just another step Dusten has taken to ensure his daughter is always well cared for should something happen to him as he is serving his country during this mandatory military training assignment."

The Cherokee Nation argues that the temporary guardianship order must be considered by the South Carolina Supreme Court before making a final determination on custody of Veronica.

Read the full release and case law on the Cherokee Nation's website, here.

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