Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2017
from the Juvenile Court for Overton County No. 16-JV-74 Daryl
A. Colson, Judge
a termination of parental rights case. Upon the trial
court's entry of an order terminating her parental
rights, Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal. However,
Appellant did not comply with Tennessee Code Annotated
Section 36-1-124(d) (Supp. 2016) in that she failed to sign
the notice of appeal. Although Appellant attempted to correct
the error by filing an amended notice of appeal, the amended
notice was filed after the thirty day time period for
perfecting appeals had expired. As such, this Court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the appeal, and it
is dismissed with prejudice.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed
Matthew S. Bailey, Sparta, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Sarah R. P. B.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; and
Brian A. Pierce, Assistant Attorney General, for appellees,
Bryan C. D. and Tennessee Department of Children's
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
John W. McClarty, J., joined. Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J.,
M.S., filed a dissent.
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE.
15, 2016, Appellee Tennessee Department of Children's
Services ("DCS") filed a petition to terminate
Appellant Sarah R. P. B.'s parental rights to Homer D.
(d/o/b May 2014) and Cheyenne D. (d/o/b November
2012). On December 20, 2016, the trial court
heard the petition to terminate Appellant's parental
rights. By order of January 4, 2017, the trial court
terminated Appellant's parental rights on the grounds of
abandonment by willful failure to support, failure to
substantially comply with the reasonable requirements of the
permanency plan, and persistence of the conditions that led
to the children's removal from Appellant's custody.
The trial court also found that termination of
Appellant's rights was in the children's best
interests. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal on
February 3, 2017. Appellant filed an amended notice of appeal
on February 27, 2017. As discussed below, Appellant did not
sign the February 3, or February 27 notice of appeal as
required under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-1-124(d).
On March 20, 2017, Appellant filed a second amended notice of
appeal, which she signed. As an initial issue, DCS asserts
that Appellant's failure to sign a timely notice of
appeal denies this Court subject-matter jurisdiction to hear
the appeal. We will first address this issue.
July 1, 2016, the Tennessee Legislature amended Tennessee
Code Annotated § 36-1-124 to add subsection (d), which
states: "Any notice of appeal filed in a termination of
parental rights action shall be signed by the
appellant." Accordingly, the requirements of Tennessee
Code Annotated Section 36-1-124(d) are applicable to the case
In re Gabrielle W., this Court held, as a matter of
first impression, that an appellant's failure to sign the
notice of appeal in compliance with Tennessee Code Annotated
§ 36-1-124(d) "is a jurisdictional default, and the
appeal must be dismissed." In re Gabrielle W.,
No. E2016-02064-COA-R3-PT, 2017 WL 2954684, at *4 (Tenn. Ct.
App. July 11, 2017). After analyzing several out-of-state
cases considering similar statutes, the Gabrielle W.
In these cases, dealing with termination of parental rights,
the courts strictly followed the language of the statutes and
rules. This state's statute is just as unforgiving.
Neither in the Tennessee Code Annotated nor in the Tennessee
Rules of Appellate Procedure is there a safety valve or means
of waiver for the requirement of the appellant's
signature. Therefore, based on the language of the statute,
the absence of [the appellant's] signature on the notice
of appeal is a jurisdictional default, and the appeal must be
Id. (footnote omitted). Relying on the reasoning in
Gabrielle W., in subsequent cases, this Court has
strictly interpreted Tennessee Code Annotated Section
36-1-124(d) to require dismissal of termination of parental
rights appeals, for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, when
the appellant has not signed the notice of appeal. See In
re Catherine J., No. W2017-00491-COA-R3-PT, 2017 WL
3141825 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 24, 2017); In re Mya
V., No. M2016-02401-COA-R3-PT, 2017 WL 3209181 (Tenn.
Ct. App. July 28, 2017); In re Jayden R., No.
M2016-02336-COA-R3-PT, 2017 WL 3469708 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug.
Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal, which was signed
by her attorney. However, the initial notice of appeal was
not signed by Appellant. In view of the foregoing authority,
we conclude that Appellant's first notice of appeal,
i.e., the February 3, 2017 notice of appeal, is deficient
because it lacks Appellant's signature. As such, the
initial notice of appeal did not confer jurisdiction on this
Court. Appellant's second amended notice of appeal was
filed on March 20, 2017. Although the March 20, 2017 amended
notice of appeal contains Appellant's signature, it was
not filed within the 30 day time period set out in Tennessee
Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a). This Court has previously