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John v. Baker

Supreme Court of Alaska
982 P.2d 738, cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1182, 120 S.Ct. 1221 (1999), 145 L.Ed.2d 1121 (2000)


Anita John (plaintiff) and John Baker (defendant) were Alaska Natives and had two children together. After John and Baker separated in 1993, they amicably co-parented their children for several years. In 1995, Baker, who was a member of the Northway Village Tribe, filed a petition in the Northway Tribal Court seeking sole custody of his kids. John agreed to Northway Tribal Court’s jurisdiction over the custody proceedings. The Northway Court granted shared custody to John and Baker. Baker, who was unhappy with this determination, filed a separate proceeding in Alaska state superior court. The state court granted Baker full custody. John appealed. John argued that the Northway Tribal Court had inherent sovereignty to adjudicate the custody proceedings, and the state court should have dismissed Baker’s case, as the dispute had already been properly adjudicated.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Fabe, J.)


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