Unrecorded Objection and “Induced Error” Would Not Support Reversal

A mother could not challenge a trial court procedure to which she had recorded no objection; to which, on the contrary, she had apparently agreed. Such a challenge presented no ground for reversal. A.J.H.T. v. K.O.H., No. 2051035 (Ala. Civ. App.) (July 27, 2007).

The Court of Civil Appeals here affirmed a termination of the mother’s parental rights. It also affirmed (what is relevant for our purposes) the juvenile court’s certifying its decision for appellate review.

The juvenile court had conducted an in camera interview of the children and based its termination order partly on this examination. The mother complained on appeal that this procedure was flawed. She claimed that the parties had not agreed to the in camera procedure; and she faulted the juvenile court for not recording the interview. The mother argued that, given these mistakes, the juvenile court wrongly certified the case for appeal.

The record did not support the mother’s position. The father’s attorney had submitted an affidavit (in the juvenile court) stating that the parties had agreed to an in camera interview, and knew that the procedure would not be recorded. The mother, by contrast, “neither made an objection to the in camera examination at trial that was noted on the record nor submitted an affidavit disputing” the account given by the father’s lawyer. This defeated her argument. The Court of Civil Appeals wrote:

The mother cannot induce error of the juvenile court by agreeing to the in camera examination with knowledge that was not going to be recorded and argue on appeal that the juvenile court erred on this basis. We therefore cannot reverse the juvenile court’s order certifying the record as adequate for appellate review on this ground.

The court went on to affirm on the merits the termination of the mother’s parental rights.