Native American Press/Ojibwe News
Hough asks judge to review court-assisted
By Jeff Armstrong - October 26, 2001
Jawnie Hough has filed a
motion asking Beltrami County district judge Terrance Holter to set
aside his Oct. 3 ruling in favor of Hough's ex-husband's family, whom
she alleges misused tribal and state courts to legalize the abduction
of her four-year-old daughter.
"[M]y child was with me essentially every single day for
3 years until taken away by this court and given to my ex-in-laws in
Red Lake, Minnesota, without my knowledge or consent," said Hough in an
affidavit in support of her motion, a preliminary step toward appealing
to a higher court.
Four-year-old Meghan Brun was seized from her mother
Jan. 10, 2001 by University of Minnesota police at a campus hospital on
the basis of a Beltrami County order enforcing a Red Lake tribal
ruling. The child suffers from a serious neurological condition,
compounding her mother's fears for the child's well-being and safety.
The father, Donald Brun, Jr., pled guilty to fifth
degree domestic assault against Hough on April 12, 1999 for allegedly
shattering the passenger window of her sister's truck and punching
Hough repeatedly. The Beltrami County court granted the Leech Lake
woman temporary custody of her child in an April 19, 1999 preliminary
According to Hough's motion, Judge Holter extended the
protection order on May 5, 1999 and strictly curtailed paternal
visitation rights to prevent the very circumstances which were to
"The Court would like to order some visitation for the
respondent, but [the Court] is afraid that if respondent chooses to
take the child and flee to the Red Lake Reservation, petitioner will be
unable to secure [the child's] return. At this time the only visitation
permissible is supervised with someone who petitioner approves of."
Awarding physical custody of the child to Hough in a
June 14, 1999 decision, Holter took care to require that "Neither party
shall remove the minor child of the parties from the State of Minnesota
for the purpose of changing her place of residence without the written
consent of the other party."
Hough's recent motion alleges Donald Brun, Jr. and his
parents "held the subject child on Red Lake Reservation, aided and
abetted by his parents, against the primary custodial parent's
intentions and known wishes, and subsequently obtained a Red Lake
Tribal Court Order, in violation of this Court's then existing order."
Although Brun raised the issue of the Red Lake ruling
through the divorce case file, Hough contends that Holter failed to
properly consider his prior deliberations or to require that the mother
be given notice of the hearing.
"[T]he Order of October 3, 2001 clearly remarks that
'[m]erely disliking the first forum addressing the issue of custody and
choosing to disregard proceedings in this court concerning the issue is
insufficient to vacte[,]' which is in fact what Respondent has done by
filing for custody in Red Lake to circumvent and reverse the custody
determinations of this court, the first forum, by using a foreign
forum, place and time which greatly favored Respondent," states Hough
in her brief.
In his successful brief opposing Hough's initial motion
to vacate Holter's comity ruling, attorney for the Bruns Michael
Ruffenach argued that the state had jurisdiction to issue the
enforcement ruling but not to reconsider it.
"This Comity case was filed in the same file as the
Dissolution of Marriage file and this Court had continuing jurisdiction
over the parties and the child...[However,] [o]nce a court grants
Comity to a Tribal Court Order it has no jurisdiction to un-grant it,"
the memorandum states.