Report: New Veronica hearing in Tulsa
TULSA, Okla. (WCIV) - The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed last week to hear the case of Veronica, a 4-year-old Cherokee girl caught in a custody dispute between her biological father, her adoptive parents and the Cherokee Nation.
Now it appears the sides are back in Tulsa Monday morning for a hearing at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services building. There have been no details released about who is presiding over the hearing.
According to Tulsa World, Monday's hearing centers around an order Friday from the Supreme Court that lets the appeals move forward while Veronica remains in the care of her biological father and family.
The paper reports that Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker told a crowd over the weekend that the Supreme Court was considering a best interest hearing for Veronica, but records do not indicate any such decision was reached.
Sealed records and a gag order have made confirming details of the court hearing difficult.
Before electing to hear the custody case, the Supreme Court was supposed to decide which jurisdiction would have the power to rule on the matter and draw the ongoing legal battle to a close - the Oklahoma Courts, the South Carolina courts, or the tribal courts.
Late last month, a Nowata County district court reaffirmed South Carolina's order that gave Veronica to the adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. That order was blocked the same day it was handed down by the Supreme Court when Dusten Brown, Veronica's birth father, filed for a writ of prohibition to give him time to appeal the decision.
The case has been in South Carolina's family court and Supreme Court, a pair of Oklahoma counties, and the U.S. Supreme Court in the past few years as the Capobiancos try to finalize their adoption of Veronica.
Now a man who argued for the Capobiancos in front of the U.S. Supreme Court will again argue for the Lowcountry couple before Oklahoma's highest court. Robert Reeves Anderson's request to be added to co-counsel was granted Monday afternoon.
Veronica has been with her biological father for almost half of her life. She was pulled from the Capobiancos' James Island home on New Year's Eve 2011 after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that a federal law protecting American Indian heritage negated the adoption.
However, that ruling was tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court over the summer, and the case was sent back down to South Carolina courts to render a decision without weighing the federal law.
As a result, South Carolina ruled in favor of the Capobiancos and a transition timeline was set - but not kept, which ultimately led to warrants for Brown's arrest being issued out of Charleston County and Gov. Nikki Haley's office.
The governor's warrant was signed after a multi-week delay by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who gave Brown an opportunity to allow the Capobiancos to meet with Veronica and begin mediation with the couple.
When those talks broke down, Fallin signed the warrant and Brown was arrested and released for the second time in a month. An extradition hearing is set for next month that will decide whether Brown is sent to South Carolina to face custodial interference charges in the case.