April 23, 2010

Custody case stalls

Custody case stalls

By MARVIN BAKER
EDITOR

A child custody case that has been plaguing two families and the tribal court system, doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
Arlie and Mary Ellen Knight, representing their son Ferlin Knight, have been trying to gain custody of their granddaughter who is with her mother Deann Birds Bill in Grand Forks.
The Knights say they have been following procedures and filing the necessary paperwork through channels but justice isn’t being served.
“Nothing is happening. We’re in the same spot. We’re spinning our wheels,” Arlie Knight said. “I feel it’s dead in the water.”
The Knights’ attorney El Marie Conklin agrees. She has received word that an ethics committee will form to look into allegations that Judge Vance Gillette hasn’t handled this case properly and there may have been a conflict of interest.
In fact, on March 1 a request for relief was filed to bar Gillette from acting in any capacity in the case against the Knights or Birds Bill or Abaada hishi Knight, the child who is too young to understand this dispute.
Arlie Knight said he was told by tribal attorney Jennifer Fyten that the committee is partially formed but that it is seeking a third attorney to hear the case.
“If Jennifer Fyten said it’s wrong, why get the committee to say it again,” he said. “It’s just passing the buck.”
 


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