Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Native American Law

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In this dispute over custody of a child, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Mother's motion to strike Father's motion for an order relinquishing permanent child custody jurisdiction to the tribal court, holding that the district court properly concluded that it retained exclusive continuing jurisdiction to make permanent custody determinations regarding the child. The district court granted Mother primary custody of the parties' child. Father, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, kept the child on the South Dakota reservation and refused to relinquish custody to Mother. Father sought orders from the district court and the trial court transferring jurisdiction over the custody matter to the tribal court. The tribal court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction because the custody action was pending in the district court and Mother was not a tribal matter. In the district court, Father argued that the tribal court acquired jurisdiction over the custody matter by issuing emergency child custody and/or protection orders. The district court granted Mother's motion to strike Father's motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly concluded that it retained exclusive continuing jurisdiction to make permanent custody determinations regarding the child. View "Mitchell v. Preston" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a non-Indian, filed a complaint in state district court against Defendants, enrolled members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, for injuries sustained in a vehicle accident that occurred on a state highway within the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting (1) the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, and (2) the two-year statute of limitations dictated by the Shoshone and Arapaho Law and Order Code should apply to bar Plaintiff’s action. The district court denied the motion, concluding (1) the court’s exercise of jurisdiction would not infringe on tribal sovereignty, and (2) the court had at a minimum concurrent jurisdiction over the action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) had subject matter jurisdiction over this action, and (2) properly concluded that Plaintiff’s action was timely filed under Wyoming’s four-year statute of limitations. View "C'hair v. Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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Appellant was the mother of LNP. After Grandparents took LNP into their care, they petitioned for temporary guardianship of LNP, which the district court granted. Grandparents subsequently moved to convert the temporary guardianship to a plenary guardianship. In response, Appellant filed a motion to terminate the temporary guardianship. Mother then filed a motion to vacate the temporary guardianship, alleging that LNP was an Indian child as defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and that the court had failed to comply with the provisions of the ICWA in granting the temporary guardianship. After a hearing, the district court granted the guardianship petition and denied Appellant's request to terminate the guardianship. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, in holding the hearing, district court (1) did not comply with the ICWA's ten-day notice requirement, but the error was harmless; (2) received testimony from a qualified expert witness as required by the ICWA; and (3) received clear and convincing evidence that showed LNP's return to Appellant would likely result in serious emotional or physical damage as required by the ICWA. View "In re Guardianship of LNP" on Justia Law