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Beatty v. Beatty Carmichael

Supreme Court of Alabama

August 16, 2019

Donald Croom BEATTY, Jr.
v.
Mary Alice Beatty CARMICHAEL and the Estate of Mary Alice Gatlin Beatty, deceased.

Page 875

         Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court (CV-97-2209)

         Donald H. Brockway, Jr., Birmingham; and Robert J. Hayes, Birmingham, for appellant.

          David C. Skinner, Birmingham, for appellees.

         BRYAN, Justice.

         Donald Croom Beatty, Jr., appeals from a judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court ("the circuit court") dismissing an action involving the estate of his mother, Mary Alice Gatlin Beatty, deceased. For the reasons set forth herein, we dismiss Donald's appeal as untimely filed.

         Facts and Procedural History

         It is unnecessary to set forth in detail the procedural history of this case. The record on appeal indicates that Mary Alice Gatlin Beatty ("the decedent") died testate on December 2, 1995; that two of the decedent's children, Donald and Mary Alice Beatty Carmichael ("Mary Alice") filed separate petitions in the Jefferson Probate Court to probate two separate wills signed by the decedent; and that Donald and Mary Alice each filed a contest to the will submitted to probate by the other. The record further indicates that, on April 14, 1997, at Donald's request, the probate court entered an order transferring "the matter" to the circuit court. On May 8, 1997, the circuit court entered an order stating that it was assuming jurisdiction over the will contest pursuant to § 43-8-198, Ala. Code 1975, which generally provides authority to a probate court to transfer a will contest to the circuit court "[u]pon the demand of any party to the contest."

         The record further indicates that, on September 30, 1999, the circuit court granted a motion for a summary judgment filed by Mary Alice, upholding the validity

Page 876

of the decedent's will dated March 3, 1994, which had been submitted for probate by Mary Alice, and declaring that an instrument dated May 13, 1995, purporting to be the last will and testament of the decedent, which was submitted by Donald, was invalid and void.[1]

         On November 3, 1999, the circuit court entered an order purporting to admit the will dated March 3, 1994, for probate and by separate order granted letters testamentary to Mary Alice. On June 9, 2005, at Mary Alice's request, the circuit court entered an order continuing the case on the court's administrative docket. The circuit court subsequently entered another order continuing the case on the court's administrative docket until July 9, 2010.[2] In that order, "counsel" was directed to file a written report of the status of the case on or before July 9, 2010. No written status report appears in the record on appeal.

         On May 1, 2018, the circuit court entered an order removing the case from the court's administrative docket and dismissing the case based on the failure to file a status report as required by the court. On May 22, 2018, Donald filed a "motion to reconsider" the order dismissing the case. Donald asked the circuit court to reinstate the case to its administrative docket or, in the alternative, to conduct a "status conference wherein [he] can be given instruction by the court as to what steps [he] must take for this matter to remain in the administrative docket or place this matter on an active docket." On January 14, 2019, the circuit court entered an order purporting to deny Donald's motion to reconsider. On February 25, 2019, Donald filed a notice of appeal from the May 1, 2018, judgment of dismissal.

         Motion to Dismiss

         On June 10, 2019, Mary Alice filed in this Court a motion to dismiss Donald's appeal as untimely filed. She argues that Donald's "motion to reconsider" was denied by operation of law on August 20, 2018, and that Donald failed to ...


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