Update: On June 26, 2013, the U.S Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court and remanded the case for further proceedings based on its holding that 25 USC §1912(f) (part of the Indian Child Welfare Act) doesn’t apply when the parent opposing the adoption never had custody of the Indian child.
An episode of A&E’s series Longmire (“The Dog Soldier”) delved into the complicated world of Indian child fostering and adoption. The show got the law wrong, but that’s not surprising in this complicated area. Although the Supreme Court may offer some clarity in its upcoming decision on the appeal of Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl (SC 2012) 731 SE2d 550, it would take the wisdom of Solomon, invoked wistfully by Justice Kennedy, to fashion a happy outcome for one Indian child.
Update: In a reversal of fortune, the district court has awarded sanctions for discovery abuse in favor of Anna Nicole Smith’s estate and her daughter Dannielynn against the estate of her stepson, Pierce Marshall, and his attorney. In a sweeping decision (Marshall v Hilliard (In re Marshall) (CD Cal May 29, 2013, SACV-01-0097 DOC)), the court found that Marshall and his attorney had practiced a fraud on the court and made a mockery of the justice system by withholding or destroying documents, among other abuses. Smith’s estate now stands to collect much of the earlier damage award thrown out by the Ninth Circuit.
It isn’t often that a court is reversed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court in the same case and still had the right result. But in effect, that’s what happened to the Ninth Circuit in the Anna Nicole Smith case.
After 34 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Stevens will retire at the end of this term. As described by the National Law Journal, Justice Stevens leaves a “diverse legal legacy,” including
…authoring landmark decisions ranging from Reno v. ACLU, the 1997 decision that anointed the Internet with broad First Amendment protection, to Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council in 1984, which has guided the administrative state ever since.