Chafin v. Chafin - Oral Argument - December 05, 2012

Chafin v. Chafin

Media for Chafin v. Chafin

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 19, 2013 in Chafin v. Chafin

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 05, 2012 in Chafin v. Chafin

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument this morning in Case 11-1347, Chafin v. Chafin.

Mr. Manely.

Michael E. Manely:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

United States courts have the power to effectuate relief in the Hague Convention cases under circumstances presented here in this international treaty.

Sergeant First Class -- First Class Chafin's appeal from the district court's decision is not moot because reversal of the district court's judgment could grant Sergeant Chafin relief in three ways, each sufficient to preclude mootness.

First, a reversal would mean that the United States is the child's habitual residence; second, the district court or court of appeals should order Ms. Chafin to bring the child back to the United States and overturn the monetary award; and, third, it would effectuate relief in the ongoing Alabama case and the Scottish case by, one, letting Alabama courts proceed to determine custody and, two, cause the Scottish court to stay or dismiss its proceeding.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Why would it make any difference?

Once the decision, the district court decision is vacated, then the State court can go forward.

There is nothing that inhibits it from doing so.

There is no Federal court order.

So your third point, I think, is--

Michael E. Manely:

Yes, Your Honor.

Under the UCCJEA, which is what the State of Alabama would use, there is a home State requirement that the child must be presently -- six months before the action is commenced.

Not so much from the district court order, but coming down from the Alabama Supreme Court, but premised upon the original district court order, it was determined that Alabama was not the home State of the child.

So it's sort of like the traffic light that we talk about in our brief.

It would allow the Alabama courts to say--

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

--Now, I don't understand that.

The child is now in Scotland.

Michael E. Manely:


Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

So how would these six months be satisfied?

Michael E. Manely:

It would toll because the child, we would argue, is wrongfully in Scotland based upon an errant district court--

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

But you can argue that on the basis of the vacation of the district court's Hague Convention order.

You -- you're not inhibited by anything, as far as I can see, that the Federal court has done.

Since it's been vacated, it's as though it never happened.

Michael E. Manely:

--Except for the fact that there is an error in the determination of habitual residence.

And I understand what you're saying, but the -- the res of the controversy needs to be brought back here.

That -- that would be the appropriate remedy here, so that we have not only the habitual court -- or habitual residence determination in the district court because of reversal, but that we have the child brought back here.

And then that six--

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

But you don't have -- you don't have the individual -- the residence -- habitual residence determination because it's been wiped out.

Michael E. Manely:

--Yes, Your Honor.