Morgan County Department of Human Resources
from Morgan Juvenile Court. (JU-13-636.02 and JU-13-637.02).
Appellant: George W. Miller, Hartselle.
Appellee: Luther Strange, atty. gen., and Sharon E.
Ficquette, gen. counsel, and Elizabeth L. Hendrix, asst.
atty. gen., Department of Human Resources.
Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Moore, and Donaldson,
(" the mother" ) appeals the judgments of the
Morgan Juvenile Court terminating her parental rights to
W.A.G. and J.L.G. (" the children" ). The
whereabouts of W.G. (" the father" ) are unknown.
The mother's sole issue on appeal is whether the juvenile
court's admitted failure to comply with certain
requirements of § 12-15-320(a), Ala. Code 1975, renders
the judgments void for lack of jurisdiction. Section
12-15-320(a) provides, in its entirety:
" (a) Termination of parental rights cases shall be
given priority over other cases. The trial on the petition
for termination of parental rights shall be completed within
90 days after service of process has been perfected. The
trial court judge shall enter a final order within 30 days of
the completion of the trial."
a de novo standard of review because the issue on appeal
involves pure questions of law. See Espinoza v.
Rudolph, 46 So.3d 403, 412 (Ala. 2010).
October 10, 2013, the juvenile court awarded temporary
custody of the children to the Morgan County Department of
Human Resources (" DHR" ). After a hearing on
February 18, 2014, the juvenile court adjudicated the
children dependent and awarded DHR permanent custody of the
children. The children were placed in foster care.
13, 2014, DHR filed petitions seeking the termination of the
mother's parental rights. The mother was served on
May 30, 2014. A termination-of-parental-rights trial was held
on September 24, 2014. On November 14, 2014, 51 days later,
the juvenile court entered judgments terminating the
mother's parental rights to the children. Both judgments
read, in pertinent part:
" The Court acknowledges that more than 30 days has
elapsed since the conclusion of the testimony and [the
court's] taking the matter under advisement. The Court of
Civil Appeals has held that this is a procedural issue and
does not prevent the entry of an order after said 30 days
unless the same impairs the ability to appeal any decision
rendered in this matter. (M.H. v. Cleburne County
[Department of Human Resources, [Ms. 2130232, July 11, 2014]
158 So.3d 471, 478 (Ala.Civ.App. 2014)]). The Court finds the
appeal of this matter has not been affected by the delay in
the entry of this order."
November 20, 2014, the mother filed motions to alter, amend,
or vacate the judgments, which were denied on November 21,
2014; that same day the mother filed a notice of appeal,
which listed both case numbers.
of subject-matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time by
the parties or by this court ex mero motu, see Burgess v.
Burgess,99 So.3d 1237, 1239 (Ala.Civ.App. 2012);
however, we do not agree with the mother that the juvenile
court's admitted ...