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Name: In re B.H.
Case #: E063011
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/22/2015

Reversal and remand were required following parental rights termination where Agency failed to provide proper ICWA notice. In a dependency proceeding, father indicated at the detention hearing that he may have Indian heritage. The Agency was ordered to provide notice of the proceedings pursuant to ICWA. It was undisputed that the Agency did not do so. At the dispositional hearing, the court left the minors in their mother’s custody, but found that the minors were not Indian children. The minors were later detained from mother on a supplemental petition. Father reported that he had Cherokee ancestry but was not a registered member of a tribe. The Agency attempted to notify three Cherokee tribes, but it was undisputed that the notices did not comply with ICWA requirements. The juvenile court found that ICWA did not apply. Parental rights were subsequently terminated. On appeal, mother claimed that reversal was required because of the Agency’s failure to provide procedurally valid ICWA notice. The appellate court agreed and reversed. The juvenile court had reason to believe that the minor was an Indian child. A person need not be a registered member of a tribe to be a member of a tribe, and it is possible that a minor is an Indian child due to a grandparent’s membership in a tribe. Although the court declined to require that the Agency conduct further inquiry into father’s Indian heritage, reversal was required due to the Agency’s conceded failure to follow ICWA requirements when notifying the BIA and three Cherokee tribes of the proceedings based on the facts it had already uncovered.