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.

In re Catherine J.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

July 24, 2017

In re CATHERINE J.

          Assigned on Briefs July 3, 2017

         Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Shelby County No. CC0587 Harold W. Horne, Special Judge

         This is a termination of parental rights case involving the parental rights of the father, Clyde J. ("Father") to his minor child, Catherine J. ("the Child"). On August 4, 2016, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition to terminate Father's parental rights.[1] The matter was heard on January 26, 2017, and the trial court entered a final judgment on February 13, 2017, terminating Father's parental rights to the Child. Father timely filed a notice of appeal. However, Father failed to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-124(d) (Supp. 2016) in that he failed to sign the notice of appeal. At the direction of this Court, Father filed an amended notice of appeal that contained his signature on April 7, 2017, more than thirty days from entry of the trial court's final judgment. Because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, we dismiss Father's appeal.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed

          James Franklin, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Clyde J.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, and Brian A. Pierce, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

          Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Richard H. Dinkins, J., and J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., joined.

          OPINION

          THOMAS R. FRIERSON, II, JUDGE

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The trial court removed the Child from the parents' custody in October 2015 and subsequently adjudicated the Child dependent and neglected in February 2016. DCS filed a petition to terminate Father's parental rights on August 4, 2016. The trial court conducted a bench trial on January 26, 2017, regarding the termination petition. Following the trial, the court entered a final judgment on February 13, 2017, terminating Father's parental rights to the Child. The court found by clear and convincing evidence that (1) Father had abandoned the Child by willfully failing to support her in the four months immediately preceding Father's incarceration, (2) Father had abandoned the Child by willfully failing to visit her in the four months immediately preceding Father's incarceration, and (3) Father had engaged in conduct prior to his incarceration that exhibited a wanton disregard for the welfare of the Child. The trial court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Father's parental rights was in the best interest of the Child.

         Father filed a premature notice of appeal in this matter on February 7, 2017, which this Court considered to have been timely filed upon entry of the February 13, 2017 judgment. See Tenn. R. App. P. 4(d) ("A prematurely filed notice of appeal shall be treated as filed after the entry of the judgment from which the appeal is taken and on the day thereof."). However, Father did not sign the notice of appeal in compliance with Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-124(d). Upon discovery of Father's deficient notice of appeal, this Court, sua sponte, filed an order on March 13, 2017, directing Father to file an amended notice of appeal that included Father's signature. Father filed an amended notice of appeal containing his requisite signature on April 7, 2017.

         II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         In its responsive brief, DCS raises the issue of whether this Court has subject matter jurisdiction to consider this appeal due to Father's failure to sign the initial notice of appeal. According to DCS, the notice of appeal lacking Father's signature is "jurisdictionally deficient." Father did not file a reply brief in this matter and failed to respond to DCS's contention in this regard. Determining that we do not have subject matter jurisdiction to consider this appeal, we agree that Father's appeal should be dismissed.

         Effective July 1, 2016, Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-124 was amended to add subsection (d), which states: "Any notice of appeal filed in a termination of parental rights action shall be signed by the appellant." Inasmuch as the amended statute is procedural in nature, this Court determined that the amendment to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-124(d) should be applied retrospectively to all termination of parental rights actions "'pending when the legislation [took] effect'" on July 1, 2016. In re Gabrielle W., No. ...


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.