Cullman County Department of Human Resources D.Je.S.
Cullman County Department of Human Resources G.S.
Cullman County Department of Human Resources D.Je.S.
Cullman County Department of Human Resources
from Cullman Juvenile Court (JU-12-683.02, JU-12-684.02,
JU-12-685.02, and JU-12-686.02)
these consolidated appeals, G.S. ("the mother") and
D.Je.S. ("the father") appeal from judgments of the
Cullman Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court")
terminating their parental rights to their four children,
namely, D.Ja.S. ("the oldest child"), a son born in
May 2000; W.J.S. ("the second-born child"), a son
born in July 2001; S.E.S. ("the third-born child"),
a son born in December 2003; and J.K.S. ("the youngest
child"), a son born in November 2005.
November 2012, the juvenile court found the children to be
dependent and awarded the Cullman County Department of Human
Resources ("DHR") temporary custody of the
children. In March 2016, DHR filed petitions seeking the
termination of the mother's and the father's parental
rights to each of the children. In January 2017, the juvenile
court tried all four termination-of-parental-rights actions
together. Later that same month, the juvenile court entered
separate judgments in each of the actions terminating the
mother's and the father's parental rights to each of
the children. The mother and the father each filed
postjudgment motions, which were denied by operation of law.
Thereafter, the mother and the father each timely appealed to
this court. A licensed court reporter recorded the trial
stenographically and transcribed it, and the record contains
the transcript. Therefore, this court has jurisdiction over
these appeals pursuant to Rule 28(A)(1)(c)(ii), Ala. R. Juv.
mother, the father, and the four children lived in Morgan
County from 2005 through 2011 before moving to Cullman County
in 2012. Regarding the period from 2005 through 2011, the
"Q. [By DHR's counsel:] Okay. Now, we have a report
from Morgan County. Were those -- were y'all in the --
were you and the children in an abusive relationship with
[the father] then from 2005 through 2011 where those reports
"Q. And were both of y'all involved in drug use
then, 2005 through 2011?
the period before November 2012, the father testified:
"Q. [By the father's counsel:] Okay. How has your
behavior changed since 2012 when your kids were taken from
you by DHR?
"A. Well, back then, all I could think about -- I was --
now, I was doing what I could to meet their needs, but I was
also thinking more of my wants, which was the drug abuse.
"Q. [By DHR's counsel:] Yeah. Okay. But during that
period of time, that was most important to you? I think
you've testified to that. That was primary on your mind?
"A. When you're hooked on something, it's hard
to get away from it.
"A. I was very hooked on drugs at that point in time.
"Q. How often were y'all using at that point?
"[By the mother's counsel]: Objection to the word
[By DHR's counsel]: You can object all you want to. He
knows whether they were using or not.
"THE COURT: I'm going to allow it.
"A. Do I need to say y'all as we were in a whole?
"Q. (By [DHR's counsel]) Yeah, I want you to answer
for you and [the mother].
"A. At the time we were using when we lived in Cullman
County -- now, I'm not talking about Holly Pond.
"Q. Holly Pond is in Cullman County?
"A. We wasn't using in Holly Pond.
"A. We lived down here off 31 in a trailer park in
"A. We would -- it was in spurts. Sometimes it would be
a week-long thing, maybe two-weeks thing and sometimes it
would go two or three months without using.
"Q. On using, would you use during those periods -- you
said a week, sometimes two weeks. Would you use everyday?
"A. Not everyday, no.
A. We didn't have to use everyday when you did
"Q. Okay. How long would the thrill from that last
"A. A day, two days.
"A. It depends on the drug.
"Q. And did -- during those periods of times, would she
use each time you did?
"A. We used together, yes.
"Q. Okay. Were there any times you were using that she
"A. When we were arguing, yes.
"Q. Was there sometimes she was using and you
"Q. And did she use marijuana a lot?
"A. We was on meth[amphetamine]. We didn't use no
marijuana at that time. That was a long time ago.
"Q. And then later on, did she use marijuana more?
"A. Like I said, we were on meth[amphetamine]. Marijuana
wasn't in the picture.
"Q. Okay. Did you ever see her smoke marijuana at all?
"A. When we lived by my daddy, we smoked it together.
"Q. Okay. Did you ever see her smoke it with any of the
"A. Yes, I did.
"Q. Which children was that?
"A. [The third-born child and the second-born child].
"A. And I think [the oldest child] might have tried it
and throwed it down."
November 2012, the oldest child's school reported to DHR
that the father might have physically abused the oldest child
and the youngest child, and DHR investigated the report.
Certified copies of court records evidencing the father's
criminal record before November 2012 were introduced into
evidence without objection. Those records established that
the father had been convicted on two charges of third-degree
domestic violence based on an incident in 2009 in which he
had hit the mother; had hit D.S. ("the paternal
grandfather"), the children's paternal grandfather;
and had fired a shotgun. Those records also established that,
in 2012, the father had been convicted of driving under the
influence. In addition, those records established that, in
2012, the mother had filed an action seeking a
protection-from-abuse order against the father, although that
action was subsequently dismissed at her request. After
investigating the November 2012 ...