'Unusual and rare' role for solicitor in Veronica dispute
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said Friday in a statement that she was working with officials in South Carolina and Oklahoma to safely and legally bring Veronica back to the Lowcountry.
Wilson said a volley of calls and emails concerning her involvement prompted the statement in which she says law enforcement officials cannot "swoop down" and take Veronica from the Browns' home in Oklahoma.
"Our states have agreed upon legal procedures to enforce custody matters and it is my responsibility to follow them," Wilson said.
Wilson was directed by a family court judge to resolve the custody issue and deliver Veronica to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the 3-year-old's adoptive parents, after Veronica and her biological family missed the first scheduled transitional meeting between the two families.
Wilson pointed out that the directive meant that she was working as an agent of the court, not working for either group at odds in the custody battle.
"It is a very unusual and rare circumstance for a Solicitor to represent a court in a legal matter," Wilson said, adding that she was working with the court, the sheriff, and the attorneys representing the Capobiancos.
"We all have worked closely together since Monday to bring about the safe return of [Veronica] home to her parents. That is still our goal and we are working day and night to achieve it."
Charleston County Sheriff's Office spokesman Maj. Jim Brady said officials met earlier this week to discuss the case and find a way to move as quickly as possible.
"We ... have explored every option," Brady said.
Wilson said the court allowed her to take a number of different avenues in returning Veronica to the Capobiancos, but some of the options have been discounted due to the wishes of the James Island couple and the court.
The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys also on Friday released a statement that decried the "continued and unnecessary lawsuits being filed" in the case.
Philip McCarthy, one of the authors of the amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, said the Capobiancos are trying to move forward with the transition plan.
"I hope that Mr. Brown will do the right thing and voluntarily participate in that transition," McCarthy said. "THere is little that can be as detrimental to a child's sound development as uncertainty over whether she is to remain in her current home, especially when such uncertainty is prolonged."
Veronica's biological father, Dusten Brown, gained custody of Veronica after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that he had a prevailing right to claim custody based on the 1968 Indian Child Welfare Act. She was removed from the Capobiancos' home on the last day of 2011.
Since then, she has been living in Oklahoma and the Capobiancos, along with Christinna Maldonado -- Veronica's birth mother who hand-picked the James Island couple to adopt her daughter -- and a host of attorneys, have been fighting to regain custody.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that Brown's ICWA-based argument, as well as the South Carolina court's ruling, was in error and ordered the lower court to re-examine the case without consideration of the 1968 law.
That's when the South Carolina Supreme Court decided that the Capobiancos should be the adoptive couple and urged the Charleston family court to finalize Veronica's adoption.
That order led to Sunday's missed meeting, the latest order to immediately return Veronica, and Wednesday's hearing in Charleston.