Dusten Brown, the biological father of 3-year-old Veronica, filed a motion with the Oklahoma Supreme Court late Friday to block whatever had been ruled earlier Friday in a custody hearing that was held behind closed doors in a Nowata, Okla., courtroom, The Tulsa World reported.
Whatever transpired in the hearing, which was attended by her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island, as well as Brown and his relatives, was unclear after it was over. All the particpants left without speaking to reporters, honoring a gag order issued earlier this month by another Oklahoma judge.
Though no one would talk with reporters, court records show that Brown’s attorney filed an appeal Friday afternoon, The Tulsa World said.
Read the Tulsa World article here.
At a mediation hearing held on Aug. 16, an Oklahoma judge barred attorneys and their clients from discussing the custody dispute. A mediation agreement was reached during a three-hour hearing that day, but the details have remained under seal.
The Capobiancos flew to Oklahoma earlier this month and have remained there ever since. It appears they have been allowed to visit with the girl who lived with them for 27 months, but it’s unclear when or how often that has occurred, The Tulsa World reported this week.
The newspaper also reported that an attorney appointed to represent Veronica’s interests has asked a Cherokee County court to suspend those visits until further hearings can be held.
Adding to the confusion, Holli Wells, the judge who brought the two sides together for the April 16 hearing and imposed the gag order, recently filed an “order of recusal,” removing herself from the case, The Tulsa World reported.
Brown, a member of the Cherokee tribe, used the heritage he shares with Veronica to get custody in late 2011 through the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The 1978 law was meant to keep Indian children connected to their native cultures.
But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that the ICWA didn’t apply to him because he hadn’t been in Veronica’s life. He has argued that the child’s mother had refused his attempts to get involved when she brushed off his marriage wishes.
Courts in South Carolina later finalized the Capobiancos’ adoption of Veronica, but Brown has refused to give up the girl. His attorneys said he should be allowed to challenge the decree’s enforcement in Oklahoma, where Veronica has lived for the past 19 months.
Brown is wanted on a Charleston County custodial interference warrant for failing to turn over Veronica to the Capobiancos. His attorney has said he plans to challenge the legality of that warrant.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has said she would speed along Brown’s extradition to Charleston if he didn’t let the Capobiancos see the girl.