Grandparents Do Not Have Standing to Appeal the Termination of Parent’s Rights

The Court of Civil Appeals dismissed an appeal for lack of standing in G.P. v. Houston County D.H.R., [Ms. 2080591, 2080606] (Ala. Civ. App. Sept. 18. 2009).  The maternal grandmother appealed the termination of parental rights of the parents.  The Court of Civil Appeals held that a grandparent has no legally protected parental rights, and cannot assert arguments on behalf of the parents.  Therefore, the grandmother did not have standing to appeal, and her appeal was dismissed. 

Appeals From Juvenile Court Subject To Shorter Deadlines; Appeal Dismissed As Untimely

In R.J.G. v. S.S.W., [Ms. 2080509] (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 21, 2009), a portion of a father’s appeal was dismissed as untimely as a result of the short deadlines for appeals from a juvenile court.  Unlike in Circuit Court, post-judgment motions in a juvenile court must be filed within 14 days of the entry of the order.  Ala. R. Juv. P. 1(B).  And, a post-judgment motion in a juvenile court will be denied by operation of law after 14 days, Ala. R. Juv. P. 1(B), as opposed to 90 days under Ala. R. Civ. P. 59.1.  Finally, appeals from a juvenile court must be made within 14 days of the entry of judgment or denial of the post-judgment motions.  Ala. R. App. P. 4(a)(3).  The father did not appeal within 14 days after the post-judgment motion was denied by operation of law, so, the appeal in one of the two cases at issue in the opinion was denied as untimely. 

Rule 60 Motions Not Subject to Rule 59.1 Deadlines

In  Rhodes v. Rhodes, [Ms. 2070972] (Ala. Civ. App. July 24, 2009), the Court of Civil Appeals dismissed an appeal in part because the trial court never ruled on the Rule 60 motion from which review was sought.  Rule 60 motions are not denied by operation of law after 90 days pursuant to Rule 59.1. Therefore, the motion was still pending and there was not a final order for purposes of appeal.

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Dismissal “Without Prejudice” Can Support Appeal If Judgment Conclusively Determines Issue Before Court

In J.J. v. J.B., [Ms. 208411] (Ala. Civ. App. July 24, 2009), the Court of Civil Appeals refused to dismiss an appeal even though the appeal was from an order dismissing the underlying dependency case "without prejudice."   Although the Alabama Supreme Court has held that a dismissal "without prejudice" will not support an appeal if the trial court did not address the merits of the case in its order, see  Palugi v. Dow, 659 So. 2d 112 (Ala. 1995), that rule does not apply if the order actually decides the issue before the court.  Here, the trial court dismissed the underlying action without prejudice because the trial court found that the case was moot. The finding of mootness conclusively decided the issue before the trial court and, therefore, the order would support an appeal.  The Court of Civil Appeals ultimately reversed he dismissal.

Trial Court’s Jurisdiction After Remand From Appellate Court Is Limited By Mandate

In South Alabama Skills Training Consortium v. Ford, [Ms. 2080068] (Ala. Civ. App. July 24, 2009), the Court of Civil Appeals dismissed an appeal as being from a void judgment because the trial court’s jurisdiction on a review of a decision of an administrative law judge was limited by certiorari review, and the trial court did not have jurisdiction to go beyond the appellate court’s mandate after remand.

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Successive Post-Judgment Motions Not Allowed; Court Will Not Review Order Entered In Another Case

After deciding the main issues in a divorce proceeding, the Court of Civil Appeals in Washington v. Washington, [Ms. 2070718] (Ala. Civ. App. May 29, 2009), addressed some interesting appellate issues regarding certain post-judgment orders of the trial court.

First, the court found that a second post-judgment motion filed by the wife was improper, as "successive post-judgment motions by the same party, seeking essentially the same relief, are not allowed."  The trial court’s entry of a judgment based on the second post-judgment motion was therefore void.

Second, the court refused to hear the husband’s appeal of  an order in a contempt action between the parties.  The contempt order was in a separate action and was issued months after the notice of appeal was filed.  Because no notice of appeal had been filed in the separate contempt action, the Court of Civil Appeals could not hear the appeal of that order in conjunction with this case.

Party Cannot File an “Amendment” to a Complaint If Trial Court Did Not Have Jurisdiction Over Original Complaint

In Off Campus College Bookstore, Inc. v. University of Alabama in Huntsville, [Ms. 1071426] (Ala. May 29, 2009), the Alabama Supreme Court applied the well-settled rule that an appeal cannot lie from a void judgment and dismissed the appeal where the trial court did not have jurisdiction over the case due to sovereign immunity.  The Court further held that the attempt to cure the jurisdiction defect failed.

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Trial and Appellate Courts Lacked Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Election Disputes

Two trial courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction over election disputes, where statutory criteria for jurisdiction were not met. The courts’ judgments were therefore void. The appellate court lacked jurisdiction in turn and the appeals were dismissed. Smith v. Burkhalter, No. 1080202 (Ala. May 15, 2009); Crouch v. Howard, No. 1080152 (Ala. May 15, 2009).

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Rule 60(a) Clerical Correction Does Not Affect Deadline to Appeal

The plaintiff mistakenly timed his appeal from the day on which the trial court, under Rule 60(a), corrected a clerical error in its final judgment. He should have measured from the day the original judgment was entered. Filed more than 42 days after the original judgment, his appeal was late and was dismissed. Barnes v. HMB, LLC, No. 2071241 (Ala. Civ. App. May 15, 2009).

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