Choctaw Tribe Prevails in ICWA Case in California Appeals Court

Justice for Lexi

Published July 9, 2016

LOS ANGELES — The Court of Appeal of the State of California – Second Appellate District upheld a lower court’s decision on Friday, July 8, 2016 that used the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) as its basis to remove Alexandria (Lexi), a four-year-old female child, from her non-Native foster family.

The former foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, who want to adopt Lexi, have vigorously fought for her in court.

Lexi, who is Choctaw, is now living in Utah with her extended family.

Here is text of court document that yesterday upheld the lower court’s decision (the Popes are referred to as the “P.s” is the court document):

We have twice remanded the matter because the lower court used an incorrect standard in assessing good cause. The dependency court has now correctly applied the law governing good cause, considering the bond Alexandria has developed over time with the P.s, as well as a number of other factors related to her best interests. Those other factors include Alexandria’s relationship with her extended family and half-siblings; the capacity of her extended family to maintain and develop her sense of self-identity, including her cultural identity and connection to the Choctaw tribal culture; and the P.s’ relative reluctance or resistance to foster Alexandria’s relationship with her extended family or encourage exploration of and exposure to her Choctaw cultural identity.


We recognize that the P.s are claiming that Alexandria’s best interests are served by a finding of good cause, but their argument is undermined by the fact that minor’s counsel argued just the opposite. We are unaware of any published case where a court has upheld a departure from the ICWA’s placement preferences contrary to the position of the minor. In other words, in every published case upholding a good cause finding, counsel for the minor either advocated for the finding, was aligned with the party advocating for a finding of good cause, or was silent.

CLICK HERE to read full court decision.

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