Justia Virginia Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Native American Law
Mother and Father (“Parents”) were the parents of twin girls. Mother was a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (“Tribe”), Father was not a member of any tribe, and the children were either members of, or eligible to be members of, the Tribe. The Dinwiddie Department of Social Services (DDSS) filed petitions to terminate Parents’ parental rights. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (“J&DR court”) denied the petitions. The DDSS appealed. The Tribe and Parents sought to transfer the case to tribal court. The trial court held that good cause existed not to transfer the proceeding to tribal court and denied the motion to transfer. The court then terminated Parents’ parental rights. The court of appeals reversed the trial court's decision on the motion to transfer, vacated the award terminating Parents' parental rights, and remanded. In so doing, the court rejected the traditional “best interests of the child” test in favor of a more limited test involving a substantial risk of harm to a child arising from the transfer to a tribal court. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded in light of the standards articulated by the court of appeals in Thompson v. Fairfax County Dep’t of Family Servs. View "Dinwiddie Dep’t of Social Servs. v. Nunnally" on Justia Law