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S.J. v. Jackson County Department of Human Resources

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

September 13, 2019

S.J.
v.
JACKSON COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES.

          

          Appeals from Jackson Juvenile Court (JU-09-274.05 and JU-14-91.03)

Page 805

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 806

          Payton Edmiston of Edmiston Law Office, Scottsboro, for appellant.

          Steve Marshall, atty. gen., and Felicia M. Brooks, chief legal counsel, and Karen P. Phillips, asst. atty. gen., Department of Human Resources, for appellee.

         MOORE, Judge.

         In appeal number 2180312, S.J. ("the mother") appeals from a judgment entered by the Jackson Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court"), in case number JU-09-274.05, terminating her parental rights to M.F., whose date of birth is November 25, 2001. In appeal number 2180313, the mother appeals from a separate, but almost identical, judgment entered by the juvenile court, in case number JU-14-91.03, terminating her parental rights to L.F., whose date of birth is July 13, 2011. We affirm the juvenile court's judgments.

         Procedural History

         On November 3, 2017, the Jackson County Department of Human Resources ("DHR") filed separate petitions to terminate the parental rights of the mother to M.F. and L.F. ("the children").[1] After a trial on November 27, 2018, the juvenile court entered separate judgments on December 27, 2018, terminating the mother's parental rights to the children. On January 9, 2019, the mother filed a single notice of appeal, referencing both case number JU-09-274.05 and case number JU-14-91.03.

         Standard of Review

         A judgment terminating parental rights must be supported by clear and convincing evidence, which is "`"[e]vidence that, when weighed against evidence in opposition, will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm conviction as to each essential element of the claim and a high probability as to the correctness of the conclusion."'"

Page 807

C.O. v. Jefferson Cty. Dep't of Human Res., 206 So.3d 621, 627 (Ala.Civ.App. 2016) (quoting L.M. v. D.D.F., 840 So.2d 171, 179 (Ala.Civ.App. 2002), quoting in turn Ala. Code 1975, § 6-11-20(b)(4)).

"`[T]he evidence necessary for appellate affirmance of a judgment based on a factual finding in the context of a case in which the ultimate standard for a factual decision by the trial court is clear and convincing evidence is evidence that a fact-finder reasonably could find to clearly and convincingly... establish the fact sought to be proved.'

"KGS Steel[, Inc. v. McInish,] 47 So.3d [749] at 761 [(Ala.Civ.App. 2006)].

"... [F]or trial courts ruling on motions for a summary judgment in civil cases to which a clear-and-convincing-evidence standard of proof applies, `the judge must view the evidence presented through the prism of the substantive evidentiary burden[,]' [Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 254, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)]; thus, the appellate court must also look through a prism to determine whether there was substantial evidence before the trial court to support a factual finding, based upon the trial ...


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