Inadequate Record Prevents Review of Custody Award; Case Transferred to Circuit Court for Trial

An inadequate record prevented the Court of Civil Appeals from reviewing a juvenile court’s custody judgment. The case was transferred to the circuit court for a de novo trial. R.G. v. C.M., No. 2060462 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 24, 2007).

The juvenile court awarded custody of the mother’s children variously to their grandmother and father. Five hearings had been conducted on the matter in the juvenile court, including four “adjudicatory and/or dispositional hearings,” but no transcript of any of these was included in the record on appeal.

This prevented the Court of Civil Appeals from reviewing the case. “Because the transcripts of the . . . [adjudicatory-dispositional] hearings [were] not included in the record on appeal, the record [was] inadequate for appellate review.” The “juvenile court’s certification of record” as adequate for appellate review, under Ala. R. Juv. P. 28(A)(1)(a), “does not render the record adequate.” Rule 28(B) of the juvenile rules moreover “provides that an appeal from a juvenile court shall be to the circuit court for a trial de novo when the record on appeal is inadequate for review by an appellate court.” Rule 28(D) of the same rules authorizes the appellate courts to transfer such appeals to the proper court.

Under these rules, the Court of Civil Appeals transferred the case to the circuit court for a de novo custody trial.