Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

D.W. v. Jefferson County Department of Human Resources

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

October 18, 2019

D.W.
v.
Jefferson County Department of Human Resources

          Appeal from Jefferson Juvenile Court (JU-17-492.02)

          MOORE, JUDGE.

         D.W. ("the father") appeals from a judgment entered by the Jefferson Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court") terminating his parental rights to A.M.S. ("the child"). We reverse the juvenile court's judgment.

         Procedural History

         On June 22, 2017, the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources ("DHR") filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the unknown parents of the child. On November 6, 2017, the father filed a motion to strike the petition, alleging in part: "DHR knows who the father is, has known who the father is, has worked with the father, has attended Individualized Service Plan ('ISP') meetings with the father, and has arranged visitation between the father and [the] child both prior to and during the filing of the Petition." That same day, the father filed a motion to dismiss the petition.

         On March 1, 2018, the juvenile court entered an order that stated, in part: "Father's motions to strike and dismiss are granted ... in that DHR shall amend [its] Termination of Parental Rights Petition." On March 22, 2018, DHR filed an amendment to the petition to terminate the parental rights regarding the father in which it alleged, in part: "On or about July 21, 2017, [the father] submitted to motherless DNA testing and was determined to be the biological father of the minor child." The juvenile court thereafter adjudicated the father to be the father of the child.

         The trial in this matter was held on March 20, 2019; it was consolidated with the trial of case number JU-15-1939.02, which was a petition to terminate the parental rights of the father and A.C. to S.W., whose date of birth is March 20, 2015. Following the consolidated trial, the juvenile court entered a judgment terminating the parental rights of the father and the unknown mother of the child. The father filed a postjudgment motion on April 27, 2019; that motion was denied on May 9, 2019. The juvenile court also entered a separate judgment terminating the parental rights of the father and A.C. to S.W. Although the father did not appeal the judgment terminating his parental rights to S.W., some information pertaining to S.W. is included in the recitation of the facts below for background purposes.

         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."'" 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'; 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 court's weighing of the evidence, that would 'produce in the mind [of the trial court] a firm conviction as to each element of the claim and a high probability as to the correctness of the conclusion.'"

Ex parte McInish, 47 So.3d 767, 778 (Ala. 2008). This court does not reweigh the evidence but, rather, determines whether the findings of fact made by the juvenile court are supported by evidence that the juvenile court could have found to be clear and convincing. See Ex parte T.V., 971 So.2d 1, 9 (Ala. 2007). When those findings rest on ore tenus evidence, this court presumes their correctness. Id. We review the legal conclusions to be drawn from the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.