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In re Taj' M.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 21, 2018

IN RE TAJ' M.

          Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Shelby County No. BB5203 David S. Walker, Special Judge

         This is one of several separate appeals filed with this court that arise directly or indirectly out of a dependent and neglect petition, a custody and child support proceeding, and an administrative order by the juvenile court. The administrative order required escort of the appellant by a deputy sheriff any time the appellant was in the building housing the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County "to enforce order in the court's immediate presence and as near thereto as is necessary to prevent interruption, disturbance, or hindrance to its proceedings." The juvenile court case from which this appeal arises, case number BB5203, was a dependent and neglect petition the appellant voluntarily dismissed by court order entered on September 24, 2015. Although the appellant remained a party to one or more separate juvenile court cases involving custody and child support of the same minor child, the order dismissing this case was a final judgment from which an appeal could be taken in 2015. Tenn. R. App. P. 4(a) requires that a notice of appeal be filed with and received by the clerk within thirty days after entry of the judgment appealed. The notice of appeal challenging the judgment entered in this case was not filed until December 17, 2016, more than one year after the 2015 final judgment was entered. Therefore, it is untimely. Because the failure to file a timely notice of appeal deprives this court of jurisdiction to hear the matter, this appeal is dismissed.

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

          Pamela M., Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se [1]

          Frank G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J. W.S., and Brandon O. Gibson, J., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [2]

          FRANK G. CLEMENT JR., P.J., M.S.

         This case began when the appellant, Pamela M., filed a dependency and neglect petition in Shelby County Juvenile Court on September 10, 2015, asserting that she became concerned about her son's safety when she dropped him off for visitation with his father, Julius S. When the petition was filed, at least one related case was already pending in which the appellant was seeking, inter alia, child support from Julius S., that being case number V9166.[3]

         When this case came on for hearing, the judge advised the appellant and the child's father, who was in attendance, that the respondent in a dependency and neglect proceeding had a right to be represented by an attorney and that an attorney would be appointed for the father if he was indigent and requested appointment of counsel. When the judge indicated that the appointment of counsel may require that the case be continued so that an attorney would have proper time to investigate the allegations, Ms. M. stated that she wanted to voluntarily dismiss her dependency and neglect petition so she could proceed with the scheduled hearing in the custody case, juvenile court case number V9166. The foregoing facts were revealed in the final judgment that was entered by the juvenile court in this case on September 24, 2015, which reads in relevant part:

This cause came on to be heard on September 24, 2015 before the Honorable David S. Walker, Special Judge of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee upon Dependent and Neglect Petitions filed on September 10, 2015 by the mother, Pamela [M.]. The mother, Pamela [M.], the father, Julius [S.] and the guardian ad litem, Autumn Chastain having appeared before the Court. At the beginning of the hearing the Special Judge advised that in a dependency and neglect proceeding that the respondent, father had a right to be represented by an attorney and that an attorney would be appointed for the father if he was indigent and requested appointment of counsel. The Special Judge further indicated that the appointment of counsel issue may require that the case be continued so that an attorney would have proper time to investigate the allegations. The mother, Pamela [M.], stated that she wanted to voluntarily dismiss her dependency and neglect petitions, and proceed with the rehearing she had filed in the custody case under Docket number V9166. Upon statements of the parties and review of the record, the Special Judge finds that the Tennessee Department of Children's Services Caseworker, Lakieta Brown testified that she had no concerns if the Dependent and Neglect Petitions were dismissed by the mother, Pamela [M.]. The caseworker further testified that there were no issues with the home of the father, Julius [S.] based on her investigation. The Guardian Ad Litem, Autumn Chastain stated that on her investigation of the home of the father she had no concerns if the mother voluntarily dismissed her dependent and neglect petitions. The Court finds that at the request of the petitioner, Pamela [M.], the petitions should be dismissed.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED

1. That the petitions be and are hereby dismissed.
• • •
3.That this is a final order and is intended to resolve all issues before the Court; any matters not specifically ...

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