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Name: In re Jack C.
Case #: D057034
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/15/2011

The juvenile court improperly denied transfer to the tribal court. Parents appealed orders denying a petition to transfer dependency jurisdiction to a Chippewa tribe under ICWA. The juvenile court concluded that it was not satisfied that the minor was an Indian child, and that even if he were, the petition to transfer was not filed within a reasonable time after notice of the proceedings. The appellate court reversed the orders. Although the children were not enrolled members of the tribe at the time of the proceedings, the tribe considered them Indian children within the meaning of ICWA. The juvenile court should have deferred to the tribe’s determination of the Indian status of the children, which was conclusive under the federal guidelines and state law. Further, there was not good cause to deny the transfer. The court may not consider socioeconomic conditions and the perceived adequacy of tribal social services in its determination of good cause. The error here was jurisdictional and required reversal and remand to the trial court with directions to transfer jurisdiction to the tribe.