Motion to Reconsider the Denial of a Post-Judgment Motion a Nullity; Ruling Thereon Will Not Support an Appeal

In N.F.N. and L.C.N. v. J.M.M.J, released on May 2, 2008, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals dismissed an appeal from a judgment awarding custody because the order appealed from purported to rule on a motion to reconsider the denial of a postjudgment motion.  

On September 13, 2006, more than 14 days after the entry of the juvenile court’s August 22, 2006 judgments, the aunt and uncle moved the juvenile court to "reconsider" that judgment.  On January 4, 2007, the juvenile court entered an order purporting to deny the aunt and uncle’s motion to reconsider.  On January 18, 2007, the aunt and uncle filed a notice of appeal.  That appeal was dismissed as untimely on April 17, 2007. 

On October 29, 2007, the aunt and uncle filed with the juvenile court a motion challenging its August 22, 2006 judgments.  That motion did not assert any of the grounds listed in Rule 60(b).  On the same day, the juvenile court entered an order purporting to deny the motion.  On November 6, 2007, the aunt and uncle filed with the juvenile court a motion that was identical to the one they had filed on October 29, 2007.  The juvenile court never ruled on the motion filed on November 6, 2007.  The aunt and uncle again filed a notice of appeal on November 19, 2007. 

The court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.  The court noted that the rules of civil procedure do not authorize a movant to file a motion to reconsider the denial of his or her own postjudgment motion.  The 2007 motions the aunt and uncle filed with the juvenile court following the dismissal of their initial appeal were in substance motions to reconsider the denial of the untimely postjudgment motion they had filed on September 13, 2006.  Because such a motion is a nullity, the juvenile court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the motion and its ruling thereon was void.  As a result, the appeal was dismissed.