When the Pages are in the Dependency Court they are facing the same sort of difficulties as all of the other parents and children in the court: the court is very crowded; the judges have little time; everyone’s case is most important to them.
If the question is, did the Pages purposefully cause a delay, the answer is they did not. If you listen to oral argument from the most recent appearance before the court of appeal, you will hear the attorneys explain that the very nature of ICWA, the limited number of foster families and potentially adoptive homes in these cases cause delays even if there is no litigation.
Moreover, the Pages did everything within their power to move this case along as quickly as possible. The Pages always have believed they were correct. The Pages have always believed they would win in front of a judge. Therefore, the Pages have always been in a hurry to get this case completed.
Unfortunately, that has not always been possible.
First, know that the appellate court acknowledged that it was not the Page’s fault for the delay. When you have six parties in a case, scheduling can be very difficult, but that wasn’t the main reason for delay. Let’s look at the delays:
- January 2013 – Lexi’s attorney opposes move to Utah, files Do Not Remove order
- + 2 months – March 2013 – De Facto parent status granted (filed by Lexi’s own attorney). Only now do the Pages have a voice in court, by this time, Lexi had been with the Pages for over a year
- + 9 months – December 2013 – Lower court rules for Lexi to be moved, within the same month, the Court of Appeals stays the order
- + 9 months – August 2014 – Court of Appeals reverses the lower court’s order. Lexi has now been with the Pages 2 years and 8 months – at this hearing, the judges do not object to any delays. As a matter of fact, in their opinion they say “We recognize that a final decision regarding Alexandria’s placement will be further delayed as a result of our determination of the merits of this appeal. That delay is warranted by the need to insure that the correct legal standard is utilized in deciding whether good cause has been shown that it is in the best interest of Alexandria to depart from ICWA’s placement preferences.” (Page 40 of the opinion)
- + 1 year & 2 months – Trial court orders Lexi moved to Utah, citing the EXACT same incorrect standard word-for-word. Lexi has now been with the Pages for 3 years, 10.5 months. Why did the court take 14 months to issue another order regarding Lexi’s placement? This delay, as heard in the oral arguments, was a result of many things:
- The opposition filed for the original dependency judge to be recused (removed) for bias, likely because, as the Court of Appeals pointed out, it was very likely she would have ruled for Lexi to be adopted by the Pages
- The dependency court failed to order an expeditious good cause hearing
- The dependency court ordered increased therapy & visits
- The dependency court ordered a 730 evaluation
- + 22 days – Court of Appeals issues a preemptory writ in the first instance overturning the word-for-word incorrect standard. At this time, they said “the dependency court is directed to resolve the issue of placement in an expeditious fashion. The child in this case is entitled to a prompt resolution of the issue of placement….within 30 days of issuance of the remittitur.” (page 3 2nd appeal)
- After the father failed reunification up until the time when the dependency court issued their first invalid ruling (14 months)
- After the court of appeals ruled in 2014 up until the time when the dependency court issued their second invalid ruling (14 months). The delays during this time, as one judge noted during oral arguments, were the result of “judicial process and agency process”, not caused by the Pages.