Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA South Carolina officials on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Cherokee Dusten Brown, the father of Veronica Brown, for failure to turn his biological three year old daughter over to the adoptive couple who took the case all the way to the US Supreme Court.
The warrant was issued for custodial interference for Brown's failure to turn over Veronica. The charge is a felony that is punishable of up to five years in prison.
Given the severity of the charge, the Cherokee Nation tribal court has subpoenaed Brown to appear for an emergency hearing on Monday morning.
Brown has been in a month-long Oklahoma National Guard training in Johnston, Iowa. Last Wednesday, Brown was ordered to turn over Veronica immediately to the South Carolina couple. Citing his mandatory training in Iowa, Brown said it was impossible to turn Veronica over.
Oklahoma state law grants Brown until August 23 to respond to the court proceedings in South Carolina, as with other state courts in adoption cases.
Brown was on a weekend furlough and spent time with his wife and Veronica. The Tulsa World reported Saturday Brown was expected to be arrested today upon his return to the National Guard training.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma National Guard issued a statement obtained by the Native News Network:
"The Oklahoma National Guard will not interject at this time into the matters involving Baby Veronica and her natural father, Oklahoma Army National Guard Spc. Dusten Brown, who is attending military training out-of-state until August 21."
"While we respect the request by Judge Martin to help enforce his order yesterday, we believe it inappropriate for the Oklahoma National Guard to take action in this matter until such time as it has been fully litigated by all parties."
After the arrest warrant was issued, the National Guard ordered Brown to return to Oklahoma instead of continuing his service.
Brown's whereabouts, as well as other members of his family, were not known on Sunday evening.
As the events unfold, the Cherokee Nation, which has been a supporter of its tribal citizen during the course of his legal battles that have lasted for over three and half years, maintains some say in the matter of the adoption and custody of Veronica.
Prior to leaving for the training, Brown transferred temporary guardianship to his wife, Robin, and his parents in a Cherokee district tribal court. This occurred prior to a South Carolina family court granting the adoption of Veronica to the non-Native South Carolina couple.
On Saturday, the Cherokee Nation issued this statement attributable to Amanda Clinton:
"It is morally reprehensible, and legally questionable, that South Carolina would take these measures when all parties involved were well aware of Dusten Brown's legal obligation to complete National Guard duty. The attorneys, the courts and the adoptive couple in this case were keenly aware of Dusten's commitment, but clearly chose to ignore it."
"This case is still not yet fully litigated. So to take these steps when there are pending legal actions in South Carolina, Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation courts is appalling. Not only is the adoptive couple asking this child be ripped from her father while he is serving our country, they are also endangering his military career in the process. This is outrageous conduct."
American Indians, who are citizens of federal recognized tribes, are dual citizens of their tribes and the United States of America.
posted August 11, 2013 8:25 pm edt