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E.S.R. v. Y.L.T.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

October 24, 2014

E.S.R., Jr.
v.
Y.L.T

Released for Publication June 17, 2015.

Appeal from Madison Juvenile Court. (JU-07-1616.04). Trial Judge: Karen K. Hall.

E.S.R., Jr., Appellant, Pro se.

MOORE, Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 133

MOORE, Judge.

E.S.R., Jr. (" the father" ), appeals from a judgment of the Madison Juvenile Court (" the juvenile court" ) denying his motion to vacate a judgment dismissing his petition to terminate the parental rights of Y.L.T. (" the mother" ). We affirm.

Background

On October 12, 2011, the father filed in the juvenile court a petition to terminate the parental rights of the mother to E.S.R. III (" the child" ). After being served with the petition on May 16, 2012, the mother answered and filed a counterclaim on June 14, 2012, seeking termination of the parental rights of the father to the child. The juvenile court set the case for trial on numerous occasions; however, at a hearing on September 9, 2013, the juvenile court indicated that it would dismiss the petition and the counterclaim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, which it did in a judgment entered on September 12, 2013.

The father timely appealed the judgment of dismissal to this court, which appeal was assigned appeal no. 2121106. On December 2, 2013, while that appeal was pending, this court granted the father leave to file, in the juvenile court, a Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., motion to vacate the judgment of dismissal; the father filed his Rule 60(b) motion on December 3, 2013. The juvenile court conducted a hearing on the

Page 134

Rule 60(b) motion on January 30, 2014. Before the juvenile court ruled on the motion, this court dismissed appeal no. 2121106 for lack of prosecution. See E.S.R., Jr. v. Y.L.T. (No. 2121106, Feb. 6, 2014), So.3d (Ala.Civ.App. 2014) (table). On February 7, 2014, the juvenile court denied the father's Rule 60(b) motion, but it purported to amend its September 12, 2013, judgment to add legal grounds for dismissing the petition and the counterclaim. On February 19, 2014, the father appealed the February 7, 2014, order to the Madison Circuit Court. On March 14, 2014, the juvenile court purported to amend its February 7, 2014, order nunc pro tunc. On April 7, 2014, the Madison Circuit Court transferred the appeal to this court. See Rule 28, Ala. R. Juv. P.

Analysis

In his Rule 60(b) motion, the father asserted that the juvenile court had erroneously dismissed his petition to terminate the parental rights of the mother based on a misunderstanding or misapplication of Alabama law regulating the subject-matter jurisdiction of a juvenile court. The father expressly premised his motion on Rule 60(b)(1), Ala. R. Civ. P., which provides that, " [o]n motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or a party's legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." However, in City of Birmingham v. City of Fairfield,396 So.2d 692 (Ala. 1981), the supreme court authoritatively decided that Rule 60(b)(1) does not allow for a motion for " reconsideration of pure points of law." 396 So.2d at 696. In his brief to this court, the father refers to some of the alleged legal errors committed by the juvenile court as " mistakes of fact," but he describes solely errors of law and the misapplication of the law to the ...


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