Judge Jeff Davis of South Dakota has been found to be in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act by failing to offer due process to Indian parents and guardians. Photo: 2nd Lt. Chad Carlson / South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs

Judge in South Dakota sanctioned in Indian Child Welfare Act case

A judge in South Dakota has agreed to pay $50,000 in sanctions in an Indian Child Welfare Act case.

Judge Jeff Davis did not admit to "concealing" information sought by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, two of the plaintiffs in the case. But he agreed to pay attorney's fees for failing to turn over key documents that explain how the state courts handled proceedings involving Indian children.

One significant document was an analysis written by a law clerk to Judge Davis. It claims that tribes and Indian guardians cannot invoke ICWA in so-called "48-hour temporary custody hearings."

The analysis was used in the 7th Judicial Circuit -- which Davis headed -- to rule against tribes and Indian guardians in 100 percent of the cases involving Indian children. Contrary to the claims in the memorandum, such proceedings indeed violate ICWA, a federal judge ruled over a year ago.

"Indian children, parents and tribes deserve better," Judge Jeffrey L. Viken wrote in the historic 45-page ruling.

Judge Davis has since been stripped of his title as the presiding judge in the 7th Circuit and was rebuked in a second, unrelated case involving tribal members. And Viken has refused to reconsider his ruling amid efforts by the state to stall the case over the past year.

The clerk who wrote the ICWA analysis has been representing Judge Davis in the case, Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik.

Get the Story:
Circuit judge to pay $50K in Indian Child Welfare Act case (AP 4/14)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Justice Department official warns of Indian Child Welfare Act fight (04/05)
Albert Bender: Stopping genocide of Indian children in South Dakota (03/08)
Bureau of Indian Affairs in final push as Obama era nears its end (03/01)
Native Sun News: State of South Dakota fails to stall Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit (02/26)
South Dakota court rebukes judge at center of ICWA dispute (11/11)
South Dakota agency sued for bias against Native applicants (11/03)
South Dakota waits 13 years to arrest Crow Creek Sioux woman (08/20)
Lakota Country Times: Indian Child Welfare Act is under attack (08/20)
Judge at center of ICWA lawsuit in South Dakota stripped of title (5/25)
South Dakota defendants seek reconsideration in ICWA dispute (04/28)
Stephen Pevar: Tribes and families fight back with ICWA lawsuit (04/15)
Albert Bender: A landmark victory for Indian Child Welfare Act (4/14)
South Dakota authorities quiet on ruling in landmark ICWA case (04/01)
Tribes and families in South Dakota win big victory in ICWA case (3/31)
Native Sun News: Former US Attorney reflects on Indian cases (03/19)
BIA schedules consultations and meetings for ICWA regulation (03/18)
Native Sun News: Lakota children in 'imminent danger' in state (03/11)
Native Sun News: Federal judge hears arguments in ICWA case (03/06)
Indian families in South Dakota battle to keep children at home (03/02)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians winter session (02/25)
NPR: DOJ to assert greater role in Indian Child Welfare Act cases (12/08)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (08/29)
Native Sun News: DOJ backs tribes in ICWA case in South Dakota (08/21)
Steven Pevar: Indian children are being taken from their homes (07/25)
Native Sun News: Tribes seek final judgment in ICWA dispute (7/21)
Tribes in South Dakota seek control over child welfare programs (06/27)
South Dakota judges ordered to explain stance in ICWA dispute (03/21)
Native Sun News: South Dakota judges balk at ICWA court order (3/20)