California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division
Order Filed Date 11/05/2013
Sonoma County Super. Ct. No. SPR-84391 Judge Hon. James G. Bertoli
For Objector and Appellant: D.W. in Propria Persona
For Petitioner and Respondent: Law Office of Richard Sax, Richard Sax
For Intervener: California Indian Legal Services, Nicholas Mazanec
RUVOLO, P. J.
Appellant D.W., proceeding in propria persona, appeals after respondent J.G. was appointed guardian of appellant’s six-year-old grandson, D.W. (the minor). She contends the court failed to comply with the inquiry and notice requirements of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq. (ICWA)). The Karuk Tribe of California (the Tribe), a federally recognized Indian tribe (65 Fed.Reg. 13298 (Mar. 13, 2000)), has exercised its right to intervene in this matter in support of appellant’s position. (See 25 U.S.C. § 1911; California Rules of Court, rule 5.482(e).) We agree with appellant and the Tribe that the inquiry and notice conducted by the court was not in compliance with the requirements of the ICWA. Consequently, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
Facts and Procedural History
Because the issues on appeal relate solely to ICWA compliance, we will restrict our statement of facts to those bearing on the adequacy of the ICWA notice.
On or about February 22, 2012, respondent, the minor’s maternal aunt, filed a petition for appointment of guardian and a petition for appointment of temporary guardian. The court granted respondent’s petition for appointment of temporary guardian on or about February 28, 2012. Letters of temporary guardianship were issued the same day. Respondent does not claim any Indian heritage.
The record contains appellant’s handwritten objections to the petition for appointment of guardian of the person filed on March 16, 2012. Appellant describes herself as the minor’s paternal “Grandmother & Indian Custodial Appointed Caretaker.” In stating the reasons for her objection, appellant invoked the “I.C.W.A.” explaining she is a “Native American of a Recognized Yurok Tribe....” She claimed to “have ...