Court of Civil Appeals Explains Standard of Review of Judgments Terminating Parental Rights

In J.C. v. State Dept. of Human Resources, No. 206091, released October 12, 2007, the Court of Civil Appeals provided an extensive discussion of the appropriate standard of review of an order terminating parental rights. The court restated the well-settled doctrine that a juvenile court’s factual findings, based on ore tenus evidence, are presumed to be correct and will not be disturbed unless plainly and palpably wrong.  Of note is the court’s explanation of the distinction between the ore tenus rule, which is a standard of appellate review, and the clear-and-convincing standard, which is a standard of proof that Alabama juvenile courts use in making the initial determination regarding whether to terminate parental rights.