Madison County Department of Human Resources F.B.
Madison County Department of Human Resources
Appeals from Madison Juvenile Court (JU-18-537.02)
appeal number 2180509, M.L.M. ("the father")
appeals from a judgment entered by the Madison Juvenile Court
("the juvenile court") terminating his parental
rights to L.G.B.-M ("the child"). In appeal number
2180510, F.B. ("the mother") appeals from that same
judgment to the extent it terminates her parental rights to
October 24, 2018, the Madison County Department of Human
Resources ("DHR") filed in the juvenile court a
petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of the
mother and the father to the child. On October 26, 2018, the
juvenile court entered an order setting the matter for a
pretrial hearing to be held on November 8, 2018. That order
indicates that it was to be served on Reta McKannan, the
attorney for the mother, and Chris Messervy, the attorney for
the father; however, the record does not contain a request to
proceed in forma pauperis from either parent or an order
appointing counsel for either parent, neither of whom had
been served with the petition as of October 26, 2018.
Messervy filed a notice of appearance accepting his
appointment as counsel for the father on November 8, 2018;
McKannan filed her notice of appearance as counsel for the
mother on December 6, 2018.
November 26, 2018, DHR filed a motion seeking to serve the
mother and the father by publication. The juvenile court
granted that request on November 27, 2018. That same date,
the juvenile court set the termination-of-parental-rights
trial for February 26, 2019. Thus, the publication notice
intended to serve the parents with the
termination-of-parental-rights petition included the date of
the termination-of-parental-rights trial. Messervy filed an
answer on behalf of the father on November 30, 2018. On
January 7, 2019, DHR notified the court that service by
publication had been completed.
the trial commenced on February 26, 2019, neither the mother
nor the father were in attendance. After brief introductions
of those present, the following occurred:
"McKannan: Your Honor, I realize that you're
excusing me and I appreciate it. My client contacted me a
"The Court: Okay.
"McKannan: She made an appointment -- A little more than
week ago. She made an appointment. She did not appear to the
"She then called and asked to speak to me and have a
phone appointment. I told her no, I needed her to come let me
see her face-to-face and us discuss the case, and she
declined to do that. I've had no further contact. That
was the first time that I've spoken to her since I
represented her four or five years ago.
"The Court: So the only contact you've had with her
in the last four or five years was by phone a few days ago.
"McKannan: Yes, Sir.
"The Court: All right. And no contact since that ...