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Case No. 21-0243

In the Interest of T.F and T.F., Minor Children

The father and the intervenor—the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska—seek further review after the court of appeals affirmed the juvenile court’s decision to deny transfer of jurisdiction to the tribe and the termination of the father’s parental rights. The father and the tribe argue the court erred: (1) in using the best interest of the child analysis rather than the good cause analysis to deny the tribe’s motion to transfer jurisdiction; (2) in allowing the minor children’s guardian ad litem to object to the motion to transfer; (3) in using impermissible factors to deny the motion to transfer; (4) in finding that active efforts were provided pursuant to Iowa Code section 232B.5(19); (5) in finding termination was proper under the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof; and (6) in relying on only one qualified expert witness in terminating the father’s parental rights.


T.F., Father-Appellant

The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, Appellant-Intervenor

Attorney for Appellant Father

Jonathan M. Causey

Attorney for Appellant Intervenor

Alexis Zendejas

Attorney for Appellee State

Mary A. Triick

Guardian ad Litem

Cathleen Siebrecht

Supreme Court

Oral Argument Schedule


Dec 14, 2021 9:00 AM

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Jul 21, 2021

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  Dissent by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (28 pages)

            This appeal involves the parental rights to T.F. and T.F., born in 2017 and 2019, who are both an “Indian child.”  The juvenile court terminated both parents’ rights; only the father and the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska appeal.  The father maintains (1) we should consider his petition even though his notice of appeal was untimely because the delay is due to ineffective assistance from his counsel; (2) the juvenile court erred when it denied his motion to have the proceedings transferred to the jurisdiction of the tribal court; (3) the State failed to meet its burden to terminate his rights under the Iowa Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); and (4) the State failed to make “active efforts” as mandated by ICWA.  In a separate appeal, the tribe argues the juvenile court (1) erred by using the “clear and convincing” standard instead of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard as ICWA requires; (2) erred in relying on only one qualified expert witness (QEW) and in using their testimony outside the scope of ICWA’s requirements for a QEW; (3) was wrong to find the State made “active efforts”; and (4) should have granted the motion to transfer jurisdiction to the tribe.  OPINION HOLDS: Based on recent case law, we accept the father’s delayed appeal.  After considering the merits, we affirm the juvenile court’s decision to deny transfer of jurisdiction to the tribe and the termination of the father’s parental rights.  DISSENT ASSERTS: Because the reasons for denial of transfer contravene a directly applicable federal regulation and Iowa’s statutory best-interest definition and because the tribe intervened and provided expert testimony on the tribe’s intent to ensure the children’s safety, I would reverse the district court’s denial of the tribe’s motion to transfer jurisdiction.

Other Information

Date Retained:
Aug 26, 2021
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