Jefferson County Department of Human Resources S.M.
Jefferson County Department of Human Resources
Opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in
the advanced sheet of the Southern Reporter.
from Jefferson Juvenile Court. (JU-12-103243.02,
JU-12-103245.02, and JU-103246.02). Appeal from Jefferson
Juvenile Court. (JU-12-103245.02 and JU-12-103246.02).
B.M., Appellant: Jason J. Bonar, Birmingham.
S.M., Appellant: Michele M. Alexander, Bessemer.
Appellee: Luther Strange, atty. gen., Sharon E. Ficquette,
gen. counsel, Elizabeth L. Hendrix, asst. atty. gen.,
Department of Human Resources.
Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Moore, and Donaldson,
24, 2013, the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources
(" DHR" ) filed in the Jefferson Juvenile Court
separate petitions seeking the termination of the parental
rights of B.M. (" the mother" ) to Sc.M. (case no.
JU-12-103246.02), Br.M. (case no. JU-12-103245.02), and L.M.
(case no. JU-12-103243.02). Sc.M., Br.M., and L.M. are
hereinafter referred to collectively as " the
children." DHR also sought the termination of the
parental rights of the unknown father of L.M. and the
parental rights of S.M. (" the father" ), who is
the father of Sc.M. and Br.M.
was born on July 6, 2001. DHR became involved with the family
that year when it received reports that the mother and the
father, who were unmarried at that time, had engaged in
" physical abuse." In 2003 DHR investigated a
report that the parents had provided inadequate shelter for
Sc.M., that Sc.M. was " dirty," and that the
parents had abused illegal substances. Br.M. was born on
April 28, 2005. In May 2005 DHR received a report that the
parents had abused alcohol and that the father had threatened
to kill the mother. The mother subsequently entered into a
safety plan, agreeing to participate in a domestic-violence
assessment and to seek shelter from the father if necessary
for her safety or the safety of Sc.M. or Br.M.; however, on
November 24, 2005, the mother and the father married one
another. In 2008 DHR received a report that the mother,
Sc.M., and Br.M. were often seen walking in downtown traffic
and that the mother was not watching Sc.M. or Br.M. In 2009
the mother filed a protection-from-abuse petition against the
father in the Calhoun Circuit Court; the mother, Sc.M., and
Br.M. then moved to a domestic-abuse shelter in Jefferson
County. According to DHR, at that time the mother revealed
that she had been severely abused as a child, that she had an
eating disorder, that she suffered from " multiple
personality disorder," that she " heard
voices," and that she regularly " s[aw] dead
people." L.M. was born on October 22, 2010; S.M. is not
the biological father of L.M.
February 22, 2012, the juvenile court found the children
dependent and awarded their custody to DHR; the children were
placed in foster care. Sc.M. was placed in therapeutic foster
care because of his issues with anger and aggression. In 2013
the mother had an automobile accident. Although she denied
that she was the driver of the automobile, she was convicted
of driving under the influence of drugs (" DUI" ).
It is clear that the mother was arrested again, because she
was transported to the June 30, 2014, termination trial from
the Birmingham city jail. However, the reason for her 2014
incarceration is unclear from the record -- the juvenile
court's termination judgments read: " [T]he Mother
was incarcerated for violating probation on a previous DUI or
[for a] theft charge." The mother admitted that she had
failed to appear for a docket call, that she had failed to
pay certain fines associated with the DUI conviction, and
that she had also pleaded guilty to theft " a few months
ago." Regardless of her inability to recall the reason
why she was incarcerated at the time of the termination
trial, the mother appeared sure that she would be released
from incarceration on December 8, 2014, because, she said,
her lawyer was appealing " it."
juvenile court entered separate judgments on July 9, 2014,
terminating the parents' parental rights to the children.
On July 17, 2014, the mother filed a postjudgment motion,
and, on July 22, 2014, the father filed a postjudgment
motion. On July 22, 2014, the mother filed a notice of
appeal. On July 24, 2014, the juvenile court denied the
mother's and the father's postjudgment motions. The
mother's appeal was held in abeyance pending the
disposition of the postjudgment motions, and it "
[became] effective upon the date of disposition of the last
of all such motions" ; thus, the mother's notice of
appeal was deemed filed on July 24, 2014. See Rule 4(a)(5),
Ala. R. App. P. On August 8, 2014, the father filed a notice
of appeal. This court consolidated the appeals ex mero motu.
Father's Appeal -- Appeal No. 2130924
4(a)(2), (3), and (5), Ala. R. App. P., require the father to
have filed his notice of appeal within 14 days of July 24,
2014 -- the date the juvenile court denied his postjudgment
motion and the date the mother's notice of appeal was
deemed to have been filed under Rule 4(a)(5). See J.H.F.
v. P.S.F., 835 So.2d 1024, 1026-27 (Ala.Civ.App. 2002)
(noting that the 14-day period under Rule 4(a)(2) ran from
the effective date of the notice of appeal). However, the
father filed his notice of appeal on August 8, 2014, which
was 15 days after July 24, 2014. Accordingly, the
father's notice of appeal was untimely; an untimely
appeal does not invoke the jurisdiction of this court. Thus,
the father's appeal must be dismissed. See Rule 2(a)(1),
Ala. R. App. P.; and Holt v. State
ex rel. Jones, [Ms. 2130726, Oct. 31, 2014] __ So.3d __, __,