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In re C.S.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF C.S., Minor Child, M.U., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Robert J. Dull, District Associate Judge.

         A mother challenges a juvenile court order transferring jurisdiction from the Iowa District Court to the Wind River Tribal Court. APPEAL DISMISSED.

          Jim L. Bybee of Bybee Law Office, P.C., Le Mars, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Shelley Mbonu of Northern Arapaho Tribe, Fort Washakie, Wyoming, pro se appellee

          Meret Thali of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge.

         A child born in 2016 came to the attention of the department of human services based on his mother's conduct. The district court adjudicated him in need of assistance but left him in his mother's care. Later, the court transferred the child to his maternal grandmother's care.

         The child's father was an enrolled member of Wyoming's Northern Arapaho Tribe. The district court notified the tribe of the pending action. The tribe in turn notified the district court that the child was eligible for enrollment. Nonetheless, the district court deemed the Indian Child Welfare Act inapplicable.

         The State eventually filed a petition to terminate parental rights. The court held an evidentiary hearing. While the matter was pending, the tribe filed a petition to transfer jurisdiction of the case to the tribal court. The tribe did not serve the mother with the petition.

         Three days after the transfer petition was filed, the district court ordered a transfer of the case to the tribal court and a transfer of the child to "the Wind River Indian Reservation." The mother timely moved to amend or enlarge the findings and conclusions. She asserted the court entered the transfer order "without a hearing" and failed to afford the parents "sufficient time to object to the application." She formally objected and asserted she had evidence to support her objection. The mother also requested a stay of the transfer order.

         The district court granted the stay request pending resolution of the mother's motion. Shortly thereafter, the court denied the motion, reasoning in part that "the movant failed to personally appear for hearing on the termination of her parental rights or present evidence." The court dismissed the Iowa case before ruling on the pending termination petition.

         The mother filed a notice of appeal. She contends the court erred in "transferring jurisdiction to the Wind River Tribal Court three days after the Tribe had filed the ...


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