Monday, September 22, 2008

August 11 - State Court

At 3:30 we had our first court hearing. We went in and sat down with our attorneys, and the Judge came in. The tribal attorney did not appear in person, instead he attended via conference call. When the Judge started talking it immediately deflated us. She stated that according to the research she had done and the information she had gotten, that she was very doubtful that she could even hear the case. She said that she thought that the tribe had jurisdiction and that unless someone could help her she would not rule on the case. Our attorney stood up and told her that he was there to help. He started explaining that ICWA should not apply to Talon, and why he believed this to be true, and basically educated her on the subject. The tribal attorney kept saying that the birth mother was lured out here, and coerced to sign the papers, and that the child WAS Indian, and should be returned to the tribe immediately. Our attorney said that the birth mother was aware of what she was signing, and that she not only signed relinquishment, but that she signed jurisdiction of the child over to the State of Utah, and she also signed something stating that the child was not eligible for enrollment in the tribe. After an hour of "education" the judge decided not to rule yet. She wanted to be briefed, and gave our attorneys two weeks to prepare the brief, and then the tribe would have a week to respond to our brief. She would then take a week and make her decision. She told us that there were some things that needed to be determined in tribal court and our attorney informed her that we already had a tribal court hearing scheduled. She said that she wanted to hear the decision made there before she released her decision.
We had hoped that she would rule in our favor right away, but at least she didn't rule against us. Our attorney said he felt really good about how it turned out.