Yesterday the South Carolina Supreme Court denied petitions for rehearing in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, filed by both the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation citizen Dusten Brown. Brown is an Iraq combat veteran who has raised his daughter for more than a year and a half inside the Cherokee Nation community of Nowata, Oklahoma. Brown is currently out of state at mandatory National Guard training.
“It is a travesty that this court would refuse to hold a hearing to determine what is in this Cherokee child’s best interests, and summarily move to terminate this fit and loving father’s parental rights with no new evidence presented in nearly two years,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It is heartbreaking that Veronica Brown’s rights are being ignored. We have, and always will, stand steadfast with the Brown family in their continued fight to raise this child with her biological family. We ask for your prayers as the Brown family continues this difficult journey.”
The Cherokee Nation and Brown pleaded with the court to hold a new best interests hearing for “Baby Veronica,” since the justices have considered no new evidence since September 2011. At that time, the courts found Veronica’s best interests were served by placing her with her biological father, Brown.
“We are gravely disappointed that the South Carolina Supreme Court has denied our petition for rehearing. It’s troublesome that, with no new evidence presented in nearly two years, the court would reverse its prior decision, which stated that Baby Girl’s interests were best served by residing with her biological father,” said Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo. “This child has been living in a healthy, loving and nurturing home with her father and stepmother for more than a year and a half. She is surrounded by a loving extended family, which includes her grandparents, sister and cousins. Dusten has always been found to be a fit and loving father, yet the South Carolina Supreme Court considered none of these factors, including the father/daughter bond they have developed over the last 19 months. This court has reversed itself based on the same evidence it used to award custody to Dusten Brown nearly two years ago. We find this extremely troubling and are currently evaluating our next steps.”