, Muskogee, OK

September 25, 2013

Fallin seeks end to Brown's case

S. Carolina charge outstanding in adoption dispute

Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is trying to persuade South Carolina to drop a charge and extradition order against a Cherokee father who disputed his daughter’s adoption, after he handed the girl over to her adoptive parents this week.

Dusten Brown was charged with custodial interference in August after he failed to show up to a family court meeting with his daughter, Veronica, in South Carolina, where her adoptive parents live. Fallin signed the extradition warrant earlier this month, saying the Nowata man was acting in “bad faith” for failing to hand over the girl, who is now 4.

Brown had been in a custody dispute with Veronica’s adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of South Carolina, for years. But Brown handed Veronica over to the Capobiancos on Monday, and Fallin’s spokesman said this should draw the legal action against Brown to a close.

“Governor Fallin’s hope is that Dusten Brown will not have to go to South Carolina,” the spokesman, Alex Weintz, wrote Wednesday in an email to the AP.

Brown is due to appear in court in Oklahoma next week to address the extradition order.

A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Haley is working closely with officials in both states “to find a solution that is in the best interests of both states, and most importantly, baby Veronica and the Capobiancos.”

Shannon Jones, a lawyer for Brown in South Carolina, said that as long as the charge is outstanding, Brown can’t go to South Carolina to see his daughter.

When a South Carolina family court judge ruled in July that custody be awarded to the Capobiancos and ordered Brown to hand Veronica over, Brown refused.

South Carolina authorities charged him with custodial interference after he failed to show up to a court-ordered meeting.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court had issued an emergency stay keeping Veronica with Brown and his family in Oklahoma while he appealed through Oklahoma courts, but the court lifted the stay on Monday. Brown then handed the girl over to the Capobiancos.

Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker said Wednesday that the tribe did everything in its power to keep Veronica with Brown.

“We used every legal avenue at our disposal to keep this family together. But the Cherokee Nation is also a nation with a longstanding history of obeying the rule of law, so that is what we did on Monday,” he said in a statement.

Baker said he hopes over time Veronica realizes how significant it is to be a Cherokee citizen and said she would always be welcome back to the Cherokee Nation.

“Whether we see you sooner or later, we know we will see you again,” Baker added.