August 11, 2013

Three-way battle for Baby Veronica

Baby Veronica's family says arrest of her father won't stop their fight

By Michael OverallMore than a year and a half after sending Veronica to Oklahoma, a South Carolina court is demanding that she come back "immediately," restoring custody to her adoptive parents in the suburbs of Charleston.

Her biological father, Spc. Dusten Brown, expects to be arrested Sunday morning in Johnston, Iowa, where he has gone for training with the Oklahoma National Guard.

But that won't make Veronica's family hand her over, Robin Brown told the Tulsa World.

"We're never going to give up on this little girl," she said.
And:Veronica, his granddaughter, has a Cherokee syllabary on her bedroom wall and knows how to say "osiyo"--hello--and several other Cherokee words.

"You can't be half Cherokee," says Chrissi Nimmo, the tribe's assistant attorney general. "Just like you can't be half American."

The case is a test of tribal sovereignty, she says.

And that has made Baby Veronica a cause célèbre for Indian rights nationwide, with coast-to-coast news coverage and more than 3,000 "likes" on the "Standing Our Ground for Veronica Brown" Facebook page.
And:The tribal court granted the guardianship just five hours before the state Supreme Court of South Carolina decided to terminate Brown's parental rights and give full custody to the adoptive parents.

With the tribal order in place first, Cherokee officials are arguing that South Carolina didn't have the authority to override it.

Dusten Brown was due home two days before an Aug. 23 deadline to challenge the South Carolina order in a local court, setting up a potential three-way battle over jurisdiction between South Carolina, Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation.

The dispute could end up in federal court, where Brown and the Cherokee Nation have already lost twice.
More media bias

Whatever you think of the Baby Veronica, you can see that tribal rights are a key factor in the case. But not if you're a mainstream media outlet such as The Today Show:

Adoptive parents awarded custody of girl, 3, but 'nobody showed'

By Linda CarrollA bitter custody battle between a South Carolina couple and an Iraq war veteran has taken another twist. At the center of it is a little girl who had been adopted by the couple, but then handed back to her birth father after a court decided in his favor almost two years ago.

After fighting the case all the way to the Supreme Court, Melanie and Matt Capobianco were once again awarded custody of “baby girl Veronica” last week. But the child's birth father, Dusten Brown, has not complied with the court’s order to hand the little girl over to the couple.

At the start of the five-day transition that had been planned to help the little girl adjust to the transfer from Brown back to the Capobiancos, “nobody showed,” Matt Capobianco told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. “They could have asked for a different time, a different day. But none of his attorneys did. We assumed that he was going to show. But now I guess we assume they knew all along that he wasn’t going to show.”

Clearly distraught, Melanie Capobianco told Guthrie, “The last time we saw her was 19 months ago when we had to turn her over.”

Brown has had the little girl since 2011, when a South Carolina court awarded him custody from the Capobiancos, citing a federal law that seeks to keep Native American children with their birth parents. The Supreme Court overthrew that decision last week, saying that the federal statute did not apply in this case.

“They said because he had not been part of the child’s life, he was not entitled to say ‘this child is now being deprived of my heritage,’” Randy Kessler, a family law expert, explained to NBC in a taped report that preceded Guthrie's interview with the Capobiancos.
Comment:  Impressive! A write-up on Baby Veronica that mentions "Native American" only once and doesn't mention "Cherokee," "ICWA," or "Indian" at all. Biased much?

For more on Baby Veronica, see Indians May Sue for Baby Veronica and Baby Veronica Returned to Adoptive Parents.

Below:  "Video: Melanie and Matt Capobianco, a South Carolina couple who have been awarded custody of a 3-year-old girl they adopted but then had to turn over to the child’s biological father, tell TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie they hope there is no trauma getting the little girl back after 18 months."


Anonymous said...

Well, the Capobiancos are looking a little under the weather after battling this case for years.

Maybe next time they can talk about their affiliation with the Coalition to Protect Indian Tribes and Families (CPIC), which Melanie (Duncan) Capobianco, Mark Fiddler, and their publicist Jessica Munday of Trio Solutions' "Save Veronica" campaign, are all founding members. CPIC, whose mission is to "amend" ICWA, orchestrated guests Troy Dunn and Johnston Moore(both members of CPIC) on Dr. Phil in 2012 and has an online petition of some 23,700 signatures to amend ICWA.

Oh, and CPIC works closely with the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare ( for Indian families "at risk" with ICWA and the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) that declares Federal Indian policy racist and unconstitutional.

And... these organizations, along with Melanie (Duncan) Capobianco are all part of the "Tea Party Community" that meets in Washington, DC.

(Took your advice Rob and wrote it out. Thanks for the update here.)

Anonymous said...

Came across this piece of info on SC Judge Daniel Martin who issued he warrant to arrest Dusten Brown. Martin is also named as defendant in the NARF suit. -A

The Associated Press State & Local Wire

December 6, 2000, Wednesday, BC cycle

Martin will leave bench after term

SECTION: State and Regional
LENGTH: 202 words

Weeks after receiving another poor evaluation from the South Carolina
Bar, Circuit Judge Daniel E. Martin Jr. announced plans to retire when his current term ends in June.

"The pain, suffering and punitive damages I had to experience in order to keep this judgeship is not worth it to me, my family or my
posterity," Martin said in a statement Tuesday.

"I have been roasted enough."

The Bar's judicial evaluation Nov. 15 said Martin's legal skills were
deficient. Almost two-thirds of the 282 lawyers who responded to the survey said he didn't know the law and more than half said he didn't know the rules of evidence and procedure.

It was the third time Martin received a poor rating since he took the bench in 1992.

Before he was re-elected in 1996, he was rated unqualified by the Bar
and got the lowest rating from the Legislative Judicial Screening
Committee. However, black legislators who said they were angry at being taken for granted by white Democrats traded votes to get Martin re-elected.

Martin said Tuesday he planned to return to practicing law.

"I shall return to Morris Street and represent the indigent and poor
people who want me, need me and will always appreciate me."


Anonymous said...

From Oklahoma's NewsOn6 Tues Aug 13:

"Adoptive mother Melanie Capobianco called the Nowata County Sheriff's Office Monday demanding Hallet arrest Brown and return the child to her. Her husband, Matt, said he will come to Oklahoma to get Veronica if nothing is done.

The sheriff there says it will take more than just a phone call from South Carolina for him to take Veronica into custody."