Contempt of court charges dropped against Veronica’s birth father

 

Staff reports The Post and Courier January 16, 2014

 Contempt of court charges against Dusten Brown, Veronica’s birth father, have been dropped, according to an Oklahoma newspaper.

Veronica, now 4 years old, was caught in the middle of an internationally publicized custody dispute involving her Native American heritage.

Brown, who lives in Oklahoma, faced contempt charges for refusing to comply with a Charleston County Family Court order to return Veronica to her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island.

The court dropped that charge Thursday, according to the Tulsa World.

Brown still faces a criminal complaint of custodial interference in South Carolina.

Gov. Nikki Haley dropped efforts to extradite him, but the warrant is still active.

Brown also remains part of an Oklahoma civil case in which the Capobiancos’ attorneys are seeking to recoup more than $1 million in fees and legal expenses incurred during the custody battle.

Veronica’s birth mother gave her up for adoption to the Capobiancos shortly after she was born in September 2009.

Brown, who is part Cherokee, said his daughter was given up without his knowledge when he was getting ready to deploy to Iraq. Veronica’s mother argued he wasn’t involved in her life.

With the help of attorneys from the Cherokee Nation, Brown sued for custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was designed to keep Native American families intact. Brown gained custody in December 2011, when Veronica was 27 months old.

The Capobiancos appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and were reunited with Veronica last September, when she was 4.

Dusten Brown: You Fought a Good Fight!

By Levi Rickert, Native News Network

TULSA – Cherokee Nation citizen Dusten Brown’s four-year long custody battle came to an end this week Thursday when Brown announced he was ending all legal litigation pending in Oklahoma to regain custody of his four year old daughter, Veronica.

dusten brown, photo of the week

This young brave warrior has the admiration of thousands in Indian country.

 

This hotly disputed custody battle spanned two states: South Carolina and Oklahoma. And, the case, known as “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl,” even reached the US Supreme Court.

By Thursday, Brown sat in the offices of his attorney offices with Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo, who also announced the Tribe was ending its litigation to assist Brown in his efforts.

A tearful and much broken Brown sat there in a French blue shirt reading his statement. Any humane person could see the genuine deep love he has for Veronica. Equally, one could see how Brown is hurting by the removal of Veronica from his and his family’s lives.

One was struck with his youthfulness that did not always come through in other photos that were captured through the past several months as he and his wife, Robin, walked in and out of courthouses. At one point Thursday, as I saw him speaking, I thought:

“He is so young.”

This young brave warrior has the admiration of thousands in Indian country. He fought for his country as a member of the Oklahoma National Guard in Iraq where he earned medals. And, quite frankly, his country’s legal system let him disgustingly and drastically failed him and his family.

But, most important, Brown fought for his daughter, Veronica. Indian country knows there are many natural fathers – both Native and non-Native – who simply walk away from their responsibilities as fathers. Dusten Brown did not. He fought until the bitter end.

“To Veronica: One day you will read about this time in your life. Never, ever, for one second, doubt how much I love you, how hard I fought for you or how much you mean to me.”

“I miss you more than words can express. You’ll always be my little girl …and I will always love you until the day I die,”

Dusten said.

To Dusten Brown:

Indian country admires and respects you and prays the Creator will fill the large hole in your heart with a balm that will heal your heart.

You fought a good fight!

Cherokee Nation Mourns as Veronica Is Returned to Adoptive Family

Suzette Brewer, Indian Country Today Media Network

In the end, it came down to one simple strategy: Waiting. As Dusten Brown faced the Damocles Sword of jail time and a felony warrant, Matt and Melanie Capobianco only had to wait.

Last week, as the clock was running down on the stay that the Oklahoma Supreme Court had granted him, Dusten Brown had tried to negotiate even a bare minimum of visitation with his daughter. At the beginning of the week, there was a hopeful offer that included three weeks in the summer, one weekend every other month in South Carolina, and with alternating Christmases, which seemed like a solid deal. But as the parties returned to court on Wednesday morning, the Capobiancos again reneged and the negotiations started all over again.

By Friday afternoon, they made one last half-hearted offer in which Brown would get to see his daughter roughly 10 hours a month in South Carolina, with supervision. But even that, according to insiders, was not written to include any kind of enforcement.

Even before they were virtually forced into mediation in a courthouse in Tulsa last week, Dusten Brown had tried to negotiate a settlement with the Capobiancos for months, which they outright rejected.

In spite of their public proclamations that they had “always” insisted that they would allow Veronica to stay in contact with her paternal biological family, behind the scenes insiders say it was apparent to the Brown family and their lawyers that the Capobiancos weren’t interested in negotiating any kind of deal at all. This fact alone is one of the reasons Dusten Brown had fought so vociferously and publicly to force them to the negotiating table.

But even then, the negotiations were merely photo opportunities in which they were photographed arriving and leaving the courthouse in downtown Tulsa. Once inside, they had no pretense about their intentions. All they had to do was wait; no matter what Dusten Brown did or did not agree to, he was going to jail, say insiders.

After the “negotiations” failed again on Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted their stay, which allowed Veronica to remain with Brown while he continued to seek legal redress in Oklahoma.

Exhausted and left with few options other than jail time and the loss of his military career and pension, he discussed her peaceful transfer with his family, legal team and tribal officials. He and his wife, Robin, packed a few bags for Veronica, who had just turned four-years-old last week. Before the family gathered to say their last goodbyes, Tommy Brown, Veronica’s grandfather, began suffering chest pains and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

At 7:30, a caravan of federal marshals made their way to the Jack Brown House in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, a guest residence near the Cherokee Nation tribal complex where the Browns had been staying for several months to maintain their privacy.

Chrissi Nimmo, the assistant attorney general for the tribe, took Veronica’s hand and led her to the waiting SUV that was to take her to the Capobiancos.

After a four-year struggle to keep his daughter, one that led the shy, unassuming soldier all the way to the Supreme Court and beyond, it was over.

As the Brown family went to the hospital to visit their patriarch, the Capobiancos went on another media blitz, starting with a live interview on CNN.

As word of the transfer began to go viral, condolences for Dusten Brown and his daughter began pouring in from all over the country.

“We are deeply, deeply saddened by the events of today, but we will not lose hope,” said Todd Hembree, attorney general for the Cherokee Nation. “Veronica Brown will always be a Cherokee citizen, and although she may have left the Cherokee Nation, she will never leave our hearts.”

“Our hearts are heavy at this course of events,” said Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. “Any other child would have had her or his best interest considered in a court of law. The legal system has failed this child and American Indians as well. Our prayers are with everyone concerned, but most of all with Veronica.”

Experts say that because of Veronica’s current age, she will experience trauma and homesickness. But adult adoptees who have been watching from the sidelines are all-too-familiar with the challenges that lay ahead for a little girl who is cognizant enough to know what has transpired.

In Oklahoma, she was surrounded by her large extended family, which included her grandparents, her father and stepmother, her sister, Kelsey, from Brown’s first marriage and a chatty phalanx of half a dozen cousins, with whom she had grown close. She had made friends at pre-school and loved her pets. She was a spark of lightning with a sharp mind and quick to giggle, a girl who loved pink and shoes.

In South Carolina, Veronica will be the only child on both sides of her adoptive parents’ families. The Capobiancos, both of whom are in their mid-40s, have no other extended family nearby, save for a stepmother who was divorced from Melanie’s father before he passed away.

Time will tell what the ultimate outcome will be for Veronica, who will undoubtedly be given the best of what the Capobiancos can afford in terms of education and the trappings of an older, upper middle income childless couple. Nonetheless, so far in her young life, she brought attention to the corrupt and broken system of illegal adoptions that are taking place every day throughout Indian Country. In spite of her removal from Oklahoma, Veronica Brown paved the way for other children to remain with their communities and families, bringing attention to the loopholes and cracks in the Indian Child Welfare Act that allow attorneys, social workers, guardian ad litems and judges to continue profiting from a very profitable industry adoption and foster care industry that traffics Native babies and children.

“We hope the Capobiancos honor their word that Dusten will be allowed to remain an important part of Veronica’s life,” said Hembree. “We also look forward to her visiting the Cherokee Nation for many years to come, for she is always welcome. Veronica is a very special child who touched the hearts of many, and she will be sorely missed.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/24/cherokee-nation-mourns-veronica-returned-adoptive-family-151418

NICWA And NCAI Applaud United Nations’ Anaya For Calling on U.S. To Protect Veronica’s Human Rights

U.N. Expert Says ‘All Necessary Measures Should Be Taken’
Source: National Congress of American Indians
Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C.—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and Angel Smith, an independent attorney appointed by the District Court of the Cherokee Nation and “Next Friend in the filing,” are applauding  today’s action by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya calling for state, federal, and tribal authorities in the United States to take all necessary measures to ensure that the well-being and human rights of Veronica Brown, the four-year-old Cherokee child at the center of a highly contentious custody dispute, are protected.
 
Anaya’s office in a release today pointed out that the Indigenous rights are guaranteed by various international instruments subscribed to or endorsed by the United States, stating, “I urge the relevant authorities, as well as all parties involved in the custody dispute, to ensure the best interests of Veronica, fully taking into account her rights to maintain her cultural identity and to maintain relations with her indigenous family and people.”
 
NICWA, NCAI, and Smith, who had brought their concerns to the Special Rapporteur’s attention, hailed the announcement as corroboration of the concerns raised both in the federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Veronica in July and in ongoing legal matters in Oklahoma.
 
Among the possible human rights violations is the forced removal of Veronica from her Indian family and tribal nation without adequate protection or recognition of her right to culture. Such removal violates her right to culture, education, family, and tribal nation as guaranteed by Articles 7 and 8 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
 
The executive directors of two leading national organizations, NICWA’s Terry Cross and NCAI’s Jacqueline Pata, called for the national conversation about the case to focus on Veronica’s human and civil rights.
 
“These rights are being violated by the failure of the courts to provide Veronica, her tribal nation, and her extended family with opportunities to be heard regarding her best interests,” said Cross. “What the U.N.’s involvement indicates is that we must all agree to turn our focus back to Veronica. When we do, it becomes disturbingly clear that the courts have utterly failed to protect what is guaranteed to her by international law and established treaties, best adoption practices, and in my opinion, basic tenets of decency. Her rights have been violated, pure and simple.”
 
“We commend the Special Rapporteur for engaging on this issue—it’s a vital step for protecting all Indigenous children throughout the world. It’s important to note that these are violations of international laws recognized and ratified by the United States long ago, not external forces weighing in on domestic laws,” said Pata. “Veronica, and all similarly situated Indian children, families, and tribal nations, have deeply felt interests in maintaining their individual and collective rights to family, culture, and community. These basic human rights, along with the fundamental principles of self-determination, non-discrimination, due process, and equality, must be protected.”
 
Smith agreed, stating, “Of course the facts of these matters are heart aching. Even so, it is important and required that when considering Veronica’s rights and protections to acknowledge that, as an Indigenous child, she holds the rights of continued connection to her family, her culture and community. It has been tragic that, in the media firestorm following this case the last two years, so little attention has been paid to Veronica’s basic human rights. These are rights and protections due her—due to Veronica—and are independent of any other individual involved in these matters. Veronica’s rights and interests must be considered.”
 
Smith continued, “If she were any other child, in any other case, her present situation, needs, and rights would be considered and would have been part of the determination. Today, Veronica is a four-year-old little girl with her own view of her daily world and her own identity. She has her own words, and her own voice. It is time Veronica is heard because it is, after all, Veronica’s life.”
 
About The National Congress of American Indians
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit www.ncai.org
 

Veronica case: Motion filed to suspend visits from Capobiancos

It is unclear whether Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the James Island, S.C., couple attempting to adopt the child, have actually met with the girl and if so, how often, since arriving in Oklahoma two weeks ago.

 

Matt and Melanie Copabianco (back left and right) arrive at Cherokee Nation Courthouse on Aug. 16 for a custody hearing involving a 3-year-old Cherokee girl they are trying to adopt.LISA SNELL | NATIVE TIMES PHOTO

Matt and Melanie Copabianco (back left and right) arrive at Cherokee Nation Courthouse on Aug. 16 for a custody hearing involving a 3-year-old Cherokee girl they are trying to adopt.
LISA SNELL | NATIVE TIMES PHOTO

25 August 2013

LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON, Native Times

 

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A motion is now on file to suspend any visits between a non-Native South Carolina couple and the three-year-old Cherokee child they have been attempting to adopt for almost four years.

 

According to docket sheets posted Sunday on the On Demand Court Records system, Angel Smith, the court-appointed attorney for Cherokee Nation citizen Veronica Brown, filed the motion Friday in Cherokee County District Court, along with a request for a hearing to revisit the matter.

 

Smith was appointed in Cherokee County District Court on Aug. 19 after representing the child in Cherokee Nation District Court for almost a month. She is also Brown’s representative in a federal lawsuit filed last month by the Native American Rights Fund, the National Indian Child Welfare Association and the National Congress of American Indians.

 

It is unclear whether Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the James Island, S.C., couple attempting to adopt the child, have actually met with the girl and if so, how often, since arriving in Oklahoma two weeks ago. The Capobiancos were awarded custody of the child last month by a South Carolina family court judge, but the order has not been enforced in Oklahoma.

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has threatened to sign off on an extradition warrant for Veronica’s biological father, Dusten Brown, if he did not allow the couple to see the girl. Brown is wanted in South Carolina for custodial interference after missing a court-ordered visitation with the Capobiancos and an adoption investigator earlier this month while he was at National Guard training in Iowa. He has since turned himself in to Sequoyah County law enforcement and has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 12 in Sallisaw.

 

Along with Smith’s motions, the Capobiancos have filed their own motions with the court objecting to the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent Veronica Brown’s best interests during the court proceedings, as well as their objection to Smith’s appointment as the three-year-old’s lawyer.

 

Additionally, special judge Holli Wells entered an order of recusal Friday, excusing herself from future proceedings in the case.

 

Thanks to a gag order issued by both the Cherokee County District Court and the Cherokee Nation District Court and a seal on all related documents, no details are available about the flurry of Friday filings other than the docket sheet line items. Earlier this month, the two sides agreed to mediation, but it is unclear whether those talks have started and if so, how they have progressed. It is also unclear what, if any, challenges were filed in Oklahoma to the South Carolina family court’s order granting custody to the Capobiancos. Under Oklahoma statute, Brown and his attorneys had until Friday to do so.

The Photo that Should Not Be

Source: Native News Network

SALLISAW, OKLAHOMA – It was one of those things that should have never happened. Here was an award-winning member of the Oklahoma National Guard who fought for the United States in Iraq getting a mug shot after his arrest for not complying with a South Carolina family court order to turn over his biological daughter, Veronica.

Dusten Brown, Cherokee

Dusten Brown after his arrest for being Veronica Brown’s father

 

Here was another American Indian father being penalized for wanting to raise his own child. History is full of American Indian children being taken away. So much so, the US Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 to allow more tribal input into American Indian adoptions.

Somehow the US Supreme Court decided by a close vote – five to four – that the Indian Child Welfare Act was misapplied by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court remanded the case back to the South Carolina high court, who basically punted it back to the South Carolina family court.

So, once again an American Indian parent loses in court. Go figure. No, it should have never come to this.

What is more incredible, a warrant was issued in South Carolina because Veronica was not turned over “immediately” as stipulated by the family court in South Carolina. Dusten Brown was at a mandatory training by the Oklahoma National Guard in Johnston, Iowa.

Most legal experts agree, according to Oklahoma state law, Brown has until August 23 to respond to the South Carolina family court.

So, no it should have never come to this – a soldier being arrested for wanting to raise his own daughter. It should have never come to this – another American Indian losing out on the ability to raise his own child.

The mug shot should have never been taken.

But, it was and we choose it as our Photo of the Week as a reminder American Indians still have a long way to go to gain parity in these United States.

The Native News Network’s prayers are with the Dusten Brown, Veronica, and his entire family.

Some Disturbing Facts About Baby Veronica’s Birth Mother

Suzette Brewer, ICTMN

It was the end of a long, bizarre week in which the ongoing battle between Dusten Brown and Matt and Melanie Capobianco became even more contentious with accusations of bad faith, court orders and competing media interviews, capped off by the dramatic issuance of a felony arrest warrant. Late Friday night, as word of the warrant began gaining traction, Lori Alvino McGill, attorney for Veronica’s birth mother, went on the Facebook page Standing Our Ground for Veronica Brown to argue with supporters for the Brown family.

In heated exchanges laced with name-calling and bad spelling, Ms. McGill again publicly excoriated Dusten Brown and vociferously defended her client’s actions in turning her infant daughter over to Matt and Melanie Capobianco in September 2009.

“…Y’all should ask Dusten aka Dustin why his name is spelled ‘Dustin Dale Brown’ on a public court order requiring him to pay delinquent child support to yet another woman, for yet another illegimate [sic] child that he spawned,” she wrote. “The fact is that every court to have looked at this case has rejected the idea that Dusten was trying to do the right thing but was misled by his pregnant girlfriend….”

 

“And, FYI, absentee impregnanters [sic] are not entitled,” she later posted, “to information about the childcare plans made by the women whom they have knocked up. This has been the law for decades.”

 

A return to the facts. The only two children Dusten Brown has, according to his ex-wife, Rachel Reichert, is Kelsey Brown, who was born two years after they were married in 2001, and Veronica, whose biological mother was Brown’s ex-fiance. And it is a matter of court record that, in spite of the recent rulings against Dusten Brown, her client, Christy Maldonado, was never found to be credible in any of the court proceedings in South Carolina.

“It is rather unseemly for an officer of the court to be on Facebook at that hour—or any hour—arguing the facts on behalf of her ‘client’ who is not a party in this case,” observed a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who works on Capitol Hill. “The serious practicing attorneys I know would never bother with that kind of thing. It’s just not appropriate. But it is pure comic gold. You can’t make this stuff up.”

Humor aside, the recent emergence of McGill as “a voice” for Veronica’s birth mother, who has never spoken publicly save for a heavily-edited opinion piece for the Washington Post in June to advocate for the Capobiancos, has begun to raise questions about Maldonado herself. Over the years, Brown has never gone on the record about his ex-fiance and has never publicly spoken ill of his daughter’s biological mother.

But a review of court documents in Oklahoma and in interviews with those who knew Maldonado prior to and during her engagement and pregnancy with Dusten Brown, reveal a portrait of a woman with a history of turmoil in her relationships, featuring restraining orders, lawsuits, Court Appointed Special Advocates and ongoing custody and child support disputes with her two older childrens’ father.

“All along, she has been painted by the adoption team as this saintly, Thomas Kinkade-hued single mother who was raising two kids and selflessly gave her child to an infertile couple,” says a former friend. “That’s been the narrative. But the reality is that it’s common knowledge in Bartlesville that Christy Maldonado does not have custody of her two other kids. They are living with their paternal grandmother in Oklahoma. She’s actually the one who pays child support and has visitation.”

Additionally, Indian Country Today Media Network has learned that Maldonado did not, in fact, receive any compensation for birth expenses from the Capobiancos. The birth of Veronica came at the expense of the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma via the state’s Medicaid program, SoonerCare.

In 2008, the year that she became pregnant with Veronica, Maldonado claimed copy,800 a month in income on a child support worksheet and had been working as a cashier at one of the Osage Nation casinos at the time of her pregnancy. As a full-time employee, she would have had access to health insurance through the tribe; or, alternatively, because Dusten Brown is a tribal member, she could also have received maternal health care at one of Oklahoma’s tribal Indian Health Service facilities. Brown even encouraged her to have their baby at a military health facility.

Adoption attorneys also point out that many health plans provide for adoptive couples in covering the medical expenses for the birth mother and child, so the Capobiancos could have also used their own health insurance to help pay some of the costs for prenatal care, labor and delivery.

But, shortly after she became pregnant, Maldonado disappeared and declined any contact with Brown or his parents, all of whom testified in court that they had tried numerous times to reach out to help her, despite her claims to the contrary.

Maldonado had battled her ex-common law husband, Joshua Thompson, in court since their divorce in 2006, which was filed by Thompson as the petitioner. Since that time, the two have fought over custody and child support too many times to count.

In 2008, she reconnected with Dusten Brown though she had stayed with him off and on since her separation from Thompson, according to former friends. Although she was working, Maldonado was behind on her mortgage and other bills; she had been through yet another expensive, bruising legal battle with her ex, and she had been ordered to pay him $252 a month in child support and 63 percent of their children’s medical expenses.

Brown, who had known Maldonado since they were both in high school, offered to help her get out of debt. In an interview last March, Brown told Indian Country Today Media Network that he knew she was stressed about money and said that he had saved about $7,500 and had offered to give all of it to her to pull out of her financial downward spiral. But she refused.

“She told me she ‘had a plan,’” he said at the time. “But I didn’t know that the plan was to put Veronica up for adoption. I offered to give her everything I had, but she didn’t want it.”

Later, in 2009, friends noticed that the old Honda Civic that Maldonado had been driving courtesy of a family member who was making her car payments for her, was suddenly traded in for a large SUV that she began driving around Bartlesville. Additionally, she had mysteriously regained her financial equilibrium and was able to get caught up on her mortgage.

“Christy Maldonado is a piece of work,” said one insider. “Dusten’s life in the military requires a lot of responsibility and time away from families and it comes with a lot of strings. She couldn’t handle that and took it personally, like he was blowing her off. But he was working and she didn’t like the demands of his job. So when she got pregnant, she had no intention of keeping the baby because the reality is that she didn’t want to pay more child support and fight over another kid. And he blindly believed that she would never do something like this. But the irony is that here she is fighting over another kid and would rather seem him go to jail than have custody of Veronica.”

In court testimony, Matt Capobianco admitted on the stand in South Carolina that he and his wife had given Maldonado money, which accounts for the record time in which Maldonado pulled out of her financial chaos. Under Oklahoma law, however, there is a copy,000 limit to what birth mothers can be paid. Any more than that requires court approval, according to an Oklahoma adoption attorney. Those in the adoption industry say the state limit is often ignored when a desperate couple is seeking the assistance and cooperation of a birth mother who may be in financial straights.

The Capobiancos also testified that they paid for Maldonado’s attorney fees and bought Christmas gifts for her and her two other children in 2009, as well as covering her airfare and expenses to travel to and from court hearings in South Carolina for trial. On the stand, Melanie Capobianco said that she and her husband had spent between “$30,000 to $40,000” for Veronica’s adoption. But those expenses are now two years out of date, though no formal audit has ever taken place regarding the expenditures and receivables on either side. It is widely acknowledged, however, that the appellate and Supreme Court practitioners and their staffs worked pro bono for both parties in Adoptive Couple.

Additionally, it is unclear whether Maldonado claimed any of the funds or gifts she received from the Capobiancos or any of their supporters in the last four years as income, which may be taxable under IRS laws.

Last month, Maldonado, with a group of nine other women, filed a federal lawsuit in South Carolina seeking to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act because of its “race-based” placement preferences. The litigation could have profound negative outcomes for Indian tribes across the country, including the Osage, from whom Maldonado has also benefited as an employee.

Officials for the Osage Nation of Oklahoma could not be reached for comment regarding Ms. Maldonado’s extracurricular activities in filing anti-Indian litigation with far-reaching consequences.

For Maldonado, however, there is one bright spot.

McGill, in her midnight chat with Brown’s supporters on Facebook, helpfully pointed out the she is working pro bono on Maldonado’s behalf.

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/12/selling-christy-maldonado-150831

Baby Veronica’s Father Accused of ‘Custodial Interference’ Felony

Suzette Brewer, Indian Country Today Media Network

After Dusten Brown was charged last Monday in a Charleston, South Carolina courtroom with failing to appear on Sunday for a scheduled four-hour visitation to begin his daughter Veronica’s transition to the Capobianco’s, he was ordered to “immediately” transfer the child to the couple’s custody. Monday’s order negated the proposed plan and demanded that Veronica be brought to South Carolina with no transition.

But Brown has been in Iowa with his Oklahoma National Guard unit for a mandatory training that had been on the books since January. This was known to all parties in the dispute, including Judge Daniel Martin, who issued the order.

“They absolutely knew where this man was and that he had no physical or legal way of being present for the transition visitation with his daughter,” says a source familiar with the case. “This whole canard that he somehow flouted the law is just absurd. [Monday’s order] was nothing more than posturing and intimidation, because weren’t these the very same people who had originally proposed that they would moved to Oklahoma to ease her transition? What happened to that? How did they go from moving to Oklahoma to demanding that he magically show up in South Carolina within 48 hours of the finalization of the adoption when they know he was not even in Oklahoma? As usual, they painted him with the broad stroke that he broke the law. He did not.”

As rhetoric on both sides heated up throughout the week during appearances on multiple media outlets, it became apparent to those watching the case that the Capobiancos and their legal team were prepared to enforce the judge’s order by any means necessary—even if it meant sending Veronica’s biological father to jail.

Equally, it became apparent that Dusten Brown was prepared to dig in his heels to continue his battle to seek justice in what many are calling an “unethical adoption” in which his infant daughter should never have been taken to South Carolina in the first place.

Friday evening, doubling down on their threat to seek intervention by law enforcement, the Capobiancos pressed criminal charges against Brown in South Carolina for “custodial interference.” The felony warrant carries a five year sentence and fines at the discretion of the court.

Attorneys for the Capobiancos said that the arrest was “necessary to ensure the rule of law.” They also said that officials for the Cherokee Nation and anyone refusing to divulge Veronica’s whereabouts would be “actively assisting in an ongoing felony.”

The Cherokee Nation declined to comment on the Capobiancos’ statement.

Authorities in South Carolina had been working with Polk County, Iowa authorities, who have jurisdiction over the civilian communities surrounding Camp Dodge, to arrest Brown on Sunday morning.

But that didn’t happen.

On Saturday, the Oklahoma National Guard granted Brown emergency leave so that he could attend an emergency hearing in Cherokee Nation Tribal Court on Monday without having to go absent without leave, thereby further endangering his military career. Brown and wife, Robin, then returned to Oklahoma.

“This is a purely civil criminal matter,” Colonel Greg Hapgood, a spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, said in a brief statement. “Our job was to facilitate communication with the local authorities.”

The exact Oklahoma whereabouts of the Browns, Veronica and their extended family is unknown. The Cherokee Nation had no comment.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/11/dusten-brown-returns-oklahoma-evades-south-carolina-150829

South Carolina Judge Orders Immediate Transfer Of Baby Veronica

Lacie Lowry, News on 6

CHARLESTON, South Carolina – A South Carolina judge Tuesday threw out the transition plan for Baby Veronica and ordered her Oklahoma family to immediately hand the girl over to her adoptive parents.

The judge said Veronica’s father skipped a mandatory meeting.

But Dusten Brown is at National Guard training in Iowa, and the Oklahoma National Guard confirms it wouldn’t make an exception and let him leave for any legal matters involving Veronica.

Veronica’s adoptive parents – Matt and Melanie Capobianco, of South Carolina – raised Veronica for two years before Brown gained custody.

Their adoption of Veronica has been finalized in South Carolina and they were scheduled to meet with Veronica and Brown on Sunday.

Brown and his daughter were a no-show and the Cherokee Nation says all parties knew of Brown’s mandatory training.

We asked an expert to weigh-in on what abrupt changes can do to a child.

“Cases such as these really lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with 4-year-old child who has attachments to many people,” said therapist Cathy Chalmers.

Chalmers said cases like Baby Veronica’s are a lightning rod for issues like adoption and the historical trauma of Indians.

“The more the parties become polarized and divided, the harder it is to set aside personal needs and desires,” she said.

Chalmers didn’t write the transition plan, but was recommended as a resource for Dusten Brown. She’s also Cherokee.

She’s not allowed to talk about Veronica’s case, but she’s seen several cases just like Veronica’s, where a transition plan is thrown out and a child immediately transferred.

Chalmers said that’s when a child suffers.

“Abrupt change says to the child, ‘Where I came from wasn’t okay or I wouldn’t have been taken away from it,'” Chalmers said. “What brings them comfort, the routines, the rituals of their day-to-day life sometimes get lost in all the politics that are involved in a polarized court ruling.”

Cherokee Nation’s Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo issued the following statement:

It is disgusting to insinuate criminal misconduct or wrongdoing on Dusten’s behalf. He is in another state for mandatory National Guard training, which all parties and the court have known for a least two weeks. It is physically and legally impossible for Dusten to comply with the current order. This is another ploy to paint Dusten as the “bad guy.” It is especially appalling while he is serving his country. Legal steps have been taken by the Capobiancos to enforce the order in Oklahoma, and legal challenges will no doubt follow. To manufacture this media frenzy is unnecessary and harmful to all involved.

Brown returns from training on August 21.

The Oklahoma National Guard offered this statement Tuesday:

“The Oklahoma National Guard will not interject at this time in the legal matters of Baby Veronica and her natural father, Oklahoma Army National Guard Specialist Dusten Brown, who is attending military training in another state until August 21st. While we respect the request by Judge Martin to help enforce his order yesterday, we believe it inappropriate for the Oklahoma National Guard to take action in this matter until such time as it has been fully litigated by all parties. There are other legal mechanisms immediately available to the state of South Carolina to enforce the court’s order that have nothing to do with the National Guard or Specialist Brown’s military service.”

It’s unclear what happens next with Veronica, who is with her grandparents and step-mom in Oklahoma.

The Gloves Come Off: Civil Rights Suit Filed as Adoption of Veronica Finalized

Suzette Brewer, Indian Country Today Media Network

Before the adoption of Veronica Brown to Matt and Melanie Capobianco was finalized yesterday in a South Carolina courtroom, the Native American Rights Fund made good on its promised Civil Rights litigation, filing a complaint late Tuesday night in federal district court on behalf of the girl’s right to due process in a “meaningful hearing” to determine her best interest. The courts in South Carolina failed to “take into account or require any inquiry” regarding Veronica’s current circumstances before approving the transition plan provided by Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island.

RELATED: Baby Veronica Must Return to Adoptive Parents

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Native American Rights Fund: Stop the Forced Removal of Baby Veronica

Additionally, the suit (V.B. v. Daniel E. Martin, Family Court for the Ninth Judicial Circuit) declares that Veronica is a tribal member and remains an “Indian Child” under the Indian Child Welfare Act, and therefore she “possesses a federally protected right” to a best interest hearing under federal law.

Supported by dozens of tribes, civil rights and child welfare groups, adoption advocacy organizations, legal authorities and Native American groups, the complaint seeks federal jurisdiction over the case, as well as an injunction prohibiting South Carolina courts from further proceedings pending a full and “meaningful” best interest hearing.

Angel Smith, an Oklahoma attorney appointed by the Cherokee Nation to represent Veronica as a tribal member, filed the motion on the girl’s behalf.

The Cherokee Nation reacted swiftly to the finalization of the adoption and transition plan in South Carolina.

“Today, a Family Court in South Carolina finalized the adoption of an almost 4-year-old Cherokee child who has been living with her unquestionably fit, loving, biological father and large extended family, for one year and seven months, half a continent away in Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation,” said Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general for the Cherokee Nation. “This decision was made without a hearing to determine what is in Veronica’s current best interests and comes almost two years after the same Family Court found that Dusten Brown was a fit, loving parent and it would be in Veronica’s best interests to be placed with her father. Every parent in America should be terrified.

Dusten Brown is an honorable man and a good father. Cherokee Nation will continue to support Dusten, Veronica and the entire Brown family in their attempt to keep their family whole.”

Dusten Brown, who is currently in training with the National Guard, also issued the following statement:

“Our family is shocked and deeply saddened that the South Carolina Supreme Court has refused to allow Veronica’s best interest to be considered. Even worse, that Court issued an order they acknowledge will cause my daughter to suffer harm. The Court gave its blessing to the transition plan offered by the Capobiancos that says upon transfer to them, Veronica will be ‘fearful, scared, anxious, confused,’” said Brown.

“They say she will likely become quiet and withdrawn and may cry herself to sleep. That the transfer will cause ‘grief’ and ‘loss’ and she will feel ‘rejected’ by me and her family. They say it will leave her with many ‘unanswered questions.’ I will not voluntarily let my child go through that, no parent would. I am her father and it is my job to protect her. My family and I continue to pray that the justice system bring justice to Veronica.”

RELATED: Inseparable Sisters: Adoption Order Exacts Toll on Baby Veronica’s Family

But legal experts acknowledged that the fight over custody of Veronica is not only not over, but has now moved into a whole new level of litigation. In spite of South Carolina’s ruling yesterday, enforcement in Oklahoma courts will now be the focus of the case.

“Everything will now move to Washington County, Oklahoma, where Veronica now resides,” said a legal scholar who asked for anonymity because of the ongoing litigation. “But it will require a bit of time for any order to be domesticated in that state. You may have an order from South Carolina, but guess what? Veronica’s not in South Carolina. She’s been domiciled in Oklahoma for 19 months and there’s no way a court in Oklahoma is going to approve enforcement of this order without a normal, legal checklist of things that would be required for any other child up that’s been put up for adoption, not to mention a child who is a tribal member and is living with a biological parent.”

For example, the adoption was finalized without a current homestudy or psychological evaluation of any of the parties involved, which legal and child welfare experts say are standard operating procedures.

“It’s called giving ‘full faith and credit’ to another state’s order,” said the expert. “[The legal team] is going to go into court to argue that full faith and credit should not be given to the South Carolina order because the courts there did not follow the law. And Oklahoma, quite frankly, does not have to give full faith and credit if Veronica’s constitutional right to due process has been denied.”

Additionally, observers say that because jurisdiction has been shifted to Oklahoma, the gloves have now come off in a state that was originally founded as “Indian Territory.” With nearly 40 tribes, including the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma has the second largest American Indian population in the United States. And they have watched the events in Adoptive Couple unfold in South Carolina with growing alarm and disgust.

“How is it that Paul Clement, who wasn’t even a party in this case, walks into the United States Supreme Court and insults every Indian tribe in the country by making this case about blood quantum and fiercely advocating for a ‘best interest’ hearing, only to have it shot down in South Carolina because the judges there think it’s too hard?” asks one Tulsa lawyer who works exclusively in ICWA cases. “It simply boggles the mind that any court would callously disregard the most important party in this case: Veronica herself. The fight is definitely not over.”

Lori Alvino McGill, the attorney for birth mother Christy Maldonado, today dismissed the federal suit to stop the finalization of the adoption as a “publicity stunt,” as tribes across the country continue to unify in support of Veronica and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

RELATED: Baby Veronica’s Mother Finally Speaks Out About Court Case

Baby Veronica’s Birth Mother Files Suit, Claims ICWA Unconstitutional

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Capobiancos filed their response to Dusten Brown’s request to the U.S. Supreme Court that the South Carolina courts postpone finalization of the adoption until a best interest determination hearing could be held. Chief Justice John Roberts, an adoptive parent himself who sided with the majority against Brown, oversees emergency petitions for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes South Carolina.

Sources in Washington have pointed out that Alvino McGill’s role in Adoptive Couple is more than that of a spokesperson for Christy Maldonado. As it turns out, Chief Justice Roberts and former solicitor general Ted Olson, both of whom sided with the Capobiancos, attended Ms. Alvino McGill’s 2006 wedding to Matthew McGill who, coincidentally, was a clerk for John Roberts in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Therefore, given the cozy nature and small world influence in the Capitol’s legal circles, observers say it was no surprise when Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl was granted petition of certiorari in January.

“Dusten Brown never had a chance,” said the source. “His biggest sin was that he got on the wrong side of the billion dollar U.S. adoption industry and he was winning. [The Supreme Court] knew this when they took cert on this case, otherwise, why would they bother with a custody dispute that should have been nipped in the bud four years ago? And the sad part is that he’s rehabilitated himself in every way in this case. He’s gone to every length to keep his child, he’s done everything asked of him. But it is a system that was stacked against him from the beginning. This is Worcester v. Georgia all over again.”

After the South Carolina court’s ruling finalizing the adoption of his daughter, Dusten Brown made a direct plea to the Capobiancos.

“To Matt and Melanie Capobianco I want to say this: Please, for Veronica’s sake, just stop. Stop, and ask yourself if you really believe this is best for her.”

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/01/gloves-come-civil-rights-suit-filed-adoption-veronica-finalized-150676