Oklahoma orders extradition of birth father in Native American child custody dispute

South Carolina governor asked Oklahoma Supreme Court to return child

Christopher Laible and Randi Kaye | 9/5/2013, 10:24 a.m.
The high-profile case of a girl adopted by a South Carolina couple is moving toward another legal showdown after Oklahoma's ...
Veronica Rose Capobianco, also known as "Baby Veronica," is in the middle of a custody dispute. She was adopted by a South Carolina couple, and her biological father Dusten Brown is accused of custodial interference. Courtesy Capobianco Family

— Robert Nigh, Brown's attorney in South Carolina, said his client has the right to post bond if he is arrested in Oklahoma.

Fallin's "unfortunate" order does not mean Brown will be extradited, according to another attorney, Clark Brewster.

An Oklahoma judge will determine whether the father broke any laws, he said, adding his client did not do so.

Brown and his attorneys "will appear before a judicial officer, point out the defects in the order and defend themselves," Brewster told CNN.

Brewster also claimed his client has tried to accommodate the Capobiancos during the appeal process.

But Haley, in her court filing in Oklahoma, said Brown has been in "willful defiance" of South Carolina courts that ordered him to return Veronica to the Capobiancos. South Carolina wants to prosecute Brown for custodial interference.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued an emergency stay on Friday to temporarily delay the transfer of Veronica to the Capobiancos. The order was made public on Tuesday.

Case has tested federal law

Brown's extradition does not affect the current placement of Veronica, according to Fallin. She would be able to stay with Brown's relatives.

The four-year case has spanned state lines and tested an unusual federal law.

The Capobianco's legally adopted Veronica at birth in September 2009. When Brown, a Cherokee Nation member, learned of her adoption a few months later, he asserted his custody rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act, setting off a lengthy legal fight.

A family court judge ruled in Brown's favor in late 2011, and he took his daughter back. The Capobiancos have fought ever since to have Veronica returned, arguing federal law does not define an unwed biological father as a "parent."

Fallin claimed that Brown denies visitation between the adoptive couple and the girl. "He is acting in open violation of both Oklahoma and South Carolina courts, which have granted custody of Veronica to the Capobiancos. Finally, he has cut off negotiations with the Capobiancos and shown no interest in pursuing any other course than yet another lengthy legal battle," the governor said.

"As governor, I am committed to upholding the rule of law. As a mother, I believe it is in the best interests of Veronica to help end this controversy and find her a permanent home," Fallin said.

Melanie Capobianco has told reporters that Veronica is being "illegally held against the wishes of her parents and the courts," and she pleaded for her daughter's return.

CNN's Joe Sutton, Michael Martinez, Bill Mears and Phil Gast contributed to this report.


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