By TEDDYE SNELL
Following Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to sign an extradition order for Dusten Brown, biological father of Veronica, both Cherokee citizens, the Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued a stern response.
“We are unspeakably saddened that Gov. Fallin chose to sign the extradition warrant of Dusten Brown and subject him to arrest,” said Hoskin in a written statement. “This illegitimate charge stems from allegations that Dusten did not appear for a court-ordered meeting in South Carolina, when all parties involved knew that Dusten was out of state serving his country at National Guard duty, and thus unable to comply with the order.”
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley requested Brown’s extradition from Oklahoma to South Carolina on Aug. 13. Brown, who has had custody of the child for the past two years, is facing charges of custodial interference in South Carolina.
He turned himself in to the Sequoyah County sheriff’s office, and a court date is set there for Sept. 12.
Veronica is currently in the custody of her biological grandparents, Alice and Tommy Brown. The extradition will not affect the placement of the child.
Hoskin views Fallin’s decision as a failure.
“We feel that the governor has failed in her duty to protect our most vulnerable citizens, which is exactly what Veronica Brown is – a minor child and citizen of the great state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation,” said Hoskin. “We all continue to pray that a court will determine what is in Veronica’s best interests, which has yet to happen.”
According to Fallin’s spokesman, Alex Weintz, the governor expected Brown to turn himself in, and he did so a short while ago in Sequoyah County.
On Wednesday, the Capobiancos, a non-native South Carolina couple who are the adoptive parents of Veronica, and the Brown family, appeared in Muskogee County court before District Judge Tom Alford.
Alford issued a writ ordering Veronica to the Capobiancos, pending a decision from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Alford said any arguments dealing with the validity of Veronica’s adoption in South Carolina should be “tried in that court, not here.”
Hoskin, who is an attorney, pointed out the state supreme court stayed the custody of Veronica, who is living with Brown’s parents currently.
“Gov. Fallin has hastily inserted herself into the judicial process as Dusten seeks his due process,” said Hoskin. “Instead of allowing the courts to decide this case, Gov. Fallin has used her authority to attempt to coerce Mr. Brown into handing over his daughter. The civil rights of both Dusten and Veronica Brown are being ignored.”
Hoskin believes Fallin’s actions, along with the bitter court battle that has been waged over the past four years should frighten every parent in the state, particularly fathers.
A gag order has been issued, and the case records have been sealed, preventing any of the interested parties from speaking.
“Additionally, Gov. Fallin has issued a statement that contains false information about Mr. Brown, knowing full well that Mr. Brown, who is bound by a court’s gag order, cannot respond and defend himself in the media. This is unacceptable and Oklahomans will not forget.”
Hoskin hopes those who are concerned about the case will take action.
“We urge those who support father’s rights and tribal rights to contact the governor’s office to voice their displeasure with this unnecessary overreach in authority,” said Hoskin.