Kansas ICWA Case–Ineffective Representation


Sometimes I’m just left sputtering:

Initially, Dan Arkell-Roca represented Mother. According to the proffered testimony at the district court’s hearing on this matter, Arkell-Roca obtained Mother’s signature on her no-contest statement to the State’s child in need of care petition by folding over the paper in such a way that she could only see the signature line. She was not able to view the rest of the document. Arkell-Roca told Mother that she needed to sign the document if she wanted to get her child back and she did not need to worry about what it said. She signed the statement without reading it and not knowing what it said. Arkell-Roca also advised Mother that she should not pursue the issue of whether there was native parentage of her son because the tribe would come and “take her child away.”


The Kansas Supreme Court disbarred Arkell-Roca from the practice of law in Kansas on July 7, 2016. See In re Arkell, 304 Kan. 754, 377 P.3d 414 (2016).

After sending notice to Cherokee Nation and then receiving the request for more information letter back, the state did nothing to find the information requested by the Nation–the grandmother’s birthdate and maiden name despite this:

Here, there is no indication the State knew the grandmother’s birthdate and maiden name, even though the child lived with grandmother after she was approved for placement. The State admits in its brief that it took no action to obtain the information 22 after receiving the Cherokee Nation letter. Thus, we cannot reasonably say that the information was unavailable here. In our view, the letter from the Cherokee Nation can be treated as a request for more information. There were eight question marks in place of the grandmother’s date of birth, indicating this information was needed.


Finally, unique to this case, we must point out that even if we do not require the State to provide additional information to the tribe, Mother has a strong argument for remand because her attorney, since disbarred, advised her not to pursue a notice to the Nation under the Act.

Yes. Yes, she does.

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3 Responses to Kansas ICWA Case–Ineffective Representation

  1. Lara/Trace says:

    Cursing won’t help but I am swearing!

  2. Roger Williams says:

    I would bow to any recommendations made by Matthew Fletcher, or Zeke Fletcher as I know them to be strong advocates for the people, with a couple other exceptions I do not know the legal tableu listed. I suspect that if there is a need for discovery that an investigator would find that the State of Kansas is no different from any other State when it comes to vetting and that an application with grandmother’s information was available to the State and that a broad brush investigation would uncover this. I did casework for the State of Michigan and everything was based on application and documentation.

  3. Pingback: ICWA Links and Resources from Arizona Talk | Turtle Talk

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