United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Kimberly Watso, individually and on behalf of C.H and C.P., her minor children; and Kaleen Dietrich, Plaintiffs,
Emily Piper, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services; Scott County; Judge John E. Jacobson, in his official capacity; Tribal Court of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians; Judge Mary Ringhand, in her official capacity; and Tribal Court of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Dakota Community. Defendants.
G. Kaardal, Esq., and William F. Mohrman, Esq., Mohrman,
Kaardal & Erickson, P.A., Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of
Winter, Assistant Attorney General, Minnesota Attorney
General's Office, St. Paul, MN, on behalf of Defendant
R. Andreen, Esq., Erstad & Riemer, P.A., Minneapolis, MN,
on behalf of Defendant Scott County.
R. Miltich, Esq., Faegre Baker Daniels, Chicago, IL; Greg S.
Paulson, Esq., Brodeen & Paulson, P.L.L.P., Minneapolis,
MN; Joshua T. Peterson, Esq., and Richard A. Duncan, Esq.,
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of
Defendants Judge John E. Jacobson and Tribal Court of the
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community.
M. Plumer, Esq., Plumer Law Officer, Bemidji, MN, and Richard
A. Duncan, Esq., Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Minneapolis, MN,
on behalf of Defendants Tribal Court of the Red Lake Band of
Chippewa Indians and Judge Mary Ringhand.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Plaintiffs Kimberly Watso and Kaleen
Dietrich's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”)
Objection [Docket No. 119] to Magistrate Judge Katherine M.
Menendez's December 5, 2017 Report and Recommendation
[Docket No. 117]. In the R&R, Judge Menendez recommends
granting Defendants Judge John E. Jacobson and Tribal Court
of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community's
Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 12], granting Defendant Emily
Piper's Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 29], granting
Defendant Scott County's Motion to Dismiss [Docket No.
46], granting Defendants Judge Mary Ringhand and Tribal Court
of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Motion to
Dismiss [Docket No. 53], and denying as moot Plaintiffs'
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Docket No.
103]. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiffs' Objection is overruled.
lawsuit challenges child custody transfers from Scott County,
Minnesota to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota)
Community Court (“SMSC Court”). Plaintiffs argue
that federal law requires a prior state court proceeding
before a tribal court may exercise jurisdiction over child
custody proceedings. Plaintiffs seek prospective declaratory,
injunctive, and other relief, and also seek to invalidate
tribal court proceedings and to regain parental control over
the minor children.
Watso (“Watso”) is the mother of minor children
C.P. and C.H. Compl. [Docket No. 1] ¶ 1. C.P. is a
member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians (“Red
Lake Band”). Id. ¶ 2. C.H. is a member of
the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community
(“SMSC”). Id. ¶ 3. Kaleen Dietrich
(“Dietrich”) is the maternal grandmother of C.H.
and C.P. Id. ¶ 5. Neither Watso nor Dietrich
are Indians. Id. ¶¶ 1, 5.
January 22, 2015, a representative of the SMSC Family and
Children Services Department filed a Petition in the SMSC
Court seeking a determination that C.P. and C.H. were
children in need of assistance, and requesting a transfer of
their custody to the SMSC Child Welfare Office. Watso v.
Jacobson, et al. No. 16-983, Docket No. 1 ¶ 52 (D.
Minn. May 31, 2016). At a January 28, 2015 hearing, Watso was
present to dispute the SMSC Court's jurisdiction.
Id. ¶ 54.
February 24, 2015, C.H. was examined at a medical center.
Compl. ¶ 18. The exam resulted in a report of possible
child abuse or neglect by Watso and Isaac Hall, the
biological father of C.H. and a member of SMSC. Id.
¶¶ 15, 19. A detective with the Shakopee Police
Department issued a Notice of 72-Hour Police Health and
Safety Hold, notifying the parents that C.P. and C.H. would
be held at Children's Hospital in St. Paul,
February 25, 2015, the SMSC Court received an Emergency Ex
Parte Motion to Transfer Legal and Physical Custody of the
children. Id. Ex. 4. This motion was brought in the
context of preexisting child welfare proceedings initiated on
January 22, 2015. Although filed ex parte, Watso was notified
of the motion and she objected to the SMSC Court's
exercise of jurisdiction. Compl. ¶¶ 130-36. The
SMSC Court overruled Watso's objections, and transferred
temporary legal and physical custody of C.P. and C.H. to SMSC
Family and Children Services Development. In so ruling, the
SMSC Court rejected Watso's argument that it lacked
subject matter jurisdiction because a Minnesota state court
had not first determined that jurisdiction should be
transferred to a tribal court. Id. Ex. 5.
January 17, 2017, the SMSC Court granted the Red Lake
Band's motion to dismiss the tribal court proceedings
regarding C.P., “allowing the Red Lake Nation to take
jurisdiction over C.P.” Id. ¶ 21.
claims that the transfer of custody from Scott County
violated the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. §§
1901-1963, her federal constitutional rights, and other
provisions of federal law.