OK Governor Issues “Baby Veronica” Extradition Order
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin today signed an extradition order for Dusten Brown, meaning he will be sent to South Carolina to face felony custodial interference charges. Brown is the biological father of “Baby Veronica,” the James Island child caught in the middle of a bitter adoption battle (for our previous coverage of the case, click here and here). Brown has refused to release Veronica to her adoptive parents even though the adoption was finalized by a family court here this summer. Fallin said she would speed up Brown’s extradition to the Palmetto State if he didn’t let the Capobiancos see Veronica, and according to a statement released by the governor upon signing the order, that was a large factor in her decision to move forward now:
“My goal in the Baby Veronica case has been to encourage both Mr. Brown and the Capobianco family to reach a quick settlement and come to an agreement that protects Veronica’s best interests,” Fallin said. “I said previously that I was willing to delay Mr. Brown’s extradition to South Carolina as long as all parties were working together in good faith to pursue such a settlement. I also outlined parameters for what I believe to be acting in ‘good faith:’ both Mr. Brown and the Capobianco family should be able to see Veronica; both parties should continue meeting to pursue a resolution outside of court; and both parties must obey the courts and the rule of law.
“Unfortunately, it has become clear that Dusten Brown is not acting in good faith,” she continued. “He has disobeyed an Oklahoma court order to allow the Capobianco’s to visit their adopted daughter and continues to deny visitation. He is acting in open violation of both Oklahoma and South Carolina courts, which have granted custody of Veronica to the Capobianco’s. Finally, he has cut off negotiations with the Capobianco’s and shown no interest in pursuing any other course than yet another lengthy legal battle.”
“As governor, I am committed to upholding the rule of law,” Fallin concluded. “As a mother, I believe it is in the best interests of Veronica to help end this controversy and find her a permanent home. For both of these reasons, I have signed the extradition order to send Mr. Brown to South Carolina.”
As I have argued previously, the goal of adoption law is to establish finality and permanency in the lives of children. That is what is in their best interests, as it is in the lives of children who are not adopted – a final, permanent, stable home. Gov. Fallin’s decision today is in line with that goal. Additionally, her decision makes clear to all involved that the rule of law applies in family court the same as it does in any other court.
Violating court orders and failing to find a good faith compromise in custody and adoption cases is not to be tolerated. Such flouting of the law by adults is not in the best interests of the children caught up in these battles, for it is the children who suffer most when these struggles continue unnecessarily.
The Tulsa World has an excellent report outlining where the Baby Veronica case – which has spanned multiple jurisdictions – has been.
Both the Capobiancos and the Browns agreed to enter mediation last month hopes of negotiating a settlement, but records in the contentious case have been sealed and there is a gag order in place, so it is not clear if any mediation talks have even taken place. Also unclear is the reason for a hearing at the Muskogee County Courthouse today at which Brown, his wife Robin, and the Capobiancos were present. All parties left the courthouse this afternoon without comment.
While her biological father will be extradited to face charges in S.C., Veronica will remain in Oklahoma until that state’s Supreme Court decides whether to keep her there while appeals filed by both sides play out.
Amy Lazenby is the associate opinion editor at FITSNews. She is a wife, mother of three and small business owner with her husband who splits her time between South Carolina and Georgia. Follow her on Twitter @Mrs_Laz or email her at email@example.com.