Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Family Law
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The case involves an appeal against a county court's decision to appoint a permanent guardian for Patrick W., an individual deemed incapacitated due to a stroke. The appellant, Patrick W., argued that the court erred in admitting a neuropsychological report as evidence over his hearsay objection and that without this report, the evidence was insufficient to prove his incapacitation.Previously, Adult Protective Services (APS) had opened an investigation into Patrick's medical needs and financial management. Concerned about Patrick's vulnerability to financial exploitation, self-neglect, and undue influence, APS contacted an attorney to inquire about establishing a guardianship. Becky Stamp was identified as a potential guardian. The county court appointed Stamp as Patrick's temporary guardian, and later, Patrick's cousin, Terry Crandall, was substituted as the temporary guardian. The court also ordered Patrick to undergo a neuropsychological evaluation.At the guardianship hearing, the county court received several exhibits into evidence and heard testimony from six witnesses, including Patrick. The court found clear and convincing evidence that Patrick was incapacitated and appointed Crandall as his permanent guardian.The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the county court's decision. It held that the neuropsychological report was admissible in evidence under Nebraska Revised Statute § 30-4204, as it was a medical report obtained by the guardian ad litem regarding the person for whom she was appointed. The court also found sufficient evidence to support the county court's finding that Patrick was incapacitated and that a full guardianship was the least restrictive alternative to provide for his continuing care. View "In re Guardianship of Patrick W." on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute between a married couple, identified as Br. C. and Be. C., who have three-year-old twins. The dispute centers around a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) that Br. C. obtained against Be. C. The DVRO was granted after several incidents of verbal and physical abuse, including Be. C. yelling at Br. C., throwing objects, and using derogatory language. The court also admitted into evidence three audio recordings of Be. C.'s abusive behavior, which Br. C. had made prior to filing for the DVRO.The Superior Court of Placer County granted the DVRO, which protects Br. C., their two children, and their two dogs from Be. C. for a three-year period. Be. C. appealed the decision, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting the three recordings into evidence and that substantial evidence does not support the DVRO.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Third Appellate District reviewed the case. Be. C. challenged the admissibility of the three audio recordings, arguing that he did not know he was being recorded at the time. The court found that the recordings were admissible under section 633.6, subdivision (b) of the Penal Code, which allows a victim of domestic violence to record a confidential communication if they reasonably believe it may contain evidence relevant to a restraining order. The court also found that substantial evidence of domestic violence supported the trial court's ruling. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the Superior Court of Placer County, upholding the DVRO against Be. C. View "Br. C. v. Be. C." on Justia Law

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The case involves S.Y.C., who appealed the judgment of the Eighth District Court of Appeals dismissing her petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus against Judge Alison L. Floyd of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. S.Y.C. sought to compel rulings on motions pending before Judge Floyd, who was overseeing the child-custody cases involving S.Y.C., her former partner, and their two children. The Eighth District dismissed S.Y.C.’s petition as moot, finding that Judge Floyd had disposed of the motions.The case originated in the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, and was transferred to Cuyahoga County in 2016. It involved multiple appeals, petitions for extraordinary writs, and affidavits of disqualification. S.Y.C. filed a petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus in the Eighth District, alleging that Judge Floyd had failed to rule on “at least seven” pending motions filed between April 2021 and August 2022. Judge Floyd filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that S.Y.C.’s petition was moot as the motions identified in S.Y.C.’s petition had been ruled on or withdrawn or were not a motion and therefore did not require a decision from the court.The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Eighth District Court of Appeals’ judgment dismissing S.Y.C.’s petition for writs of procedendo and mandamus as moot. The court found that Judge Floyd had ruled on all the motions that were the subject of the petition, rendering moot S.Y.C.’s petition. The court also rejected S.Y.C.’s other arguments about Judge Floyd’s rulings, noting that S.Y.C. was essentially seeking an appellate review of Judge Floyd’s judgments, which is not the purpose of either procedendo or mandamus. View "State ex rel. S.Y.C. v. Floyd" on Justia Law

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The case involves a divorce proceeding initiated by Jolene K. Makuch against John Makuch III in the Geauga County Common Pleas Court. Jolene represented herself, stating she could not afford representation. After the trial, the magistrate noted that Jolene had failed to provide evidence regarding the division of marital property, spousal or child support, or attorney fees. The magistrate ordered a hearing for the parties to present additional evidence on these matters. John objected to the magistrate's decision, challenging the order for a hearing to present additional evidence.The Common Pleas Court, presided over by Judge Carolyn J. Paschke, overruled John's objections and adopted the magistrate's decision. The court noted that the parties had failed to present sufficient evidence at trial regarding the nature, extent, and value of the marital property, their income, and debts. The court set a future hearing date for the parties to present complete evidence on these matters. John appealed this decision to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals.The Court of Appeals dismissed John's appeal for lack of jurisdiction, determining that Judge Paschke's entry was not a final order under R.C. 2505.02(B). The court explained that in a divorce action, no final appealable order exists until all issues relating to property division, support, and parental rights and responsibilities have been addressed. John then appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.The Supreme Court of Ohio declined to accept jurisdiction in this discretionary appeal filed on behalf of John. The court found the appeal to be frivolous, as it was neither warranted by existing law nor supported by a good-faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law. The court denied John's motions for clarification and for leave to file a supplemental brief. The court also declined to impose sanctions on John's counsel, who had previously been declared to be vexatious litigators. View "Makuch v. Makuch" on Justia Law

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The case involves Laura Cote and Adam Cote, who were divorced in November 2022. The divorce agreement prohibited exposing their children to felons and known sex offenders. However, Laura Cote began dating Steven Alexander, a convicted sex offender, in August 2022. In April 2023, Adam Cote filed a motion to modify residential responsibility and sought a contempt sanction against Laura Cote for violating the terms of the judgment by allowing Alexander to be around the children. He also filed a motion to compel discovery seeking communications between Laura Cote and Alexander and Laura Cote’s bank statements.The District Court of Ward County found Laura Cote in contempt of court for allowing and encouraging contact between the children and Alexander. However, the court denied Adam Cote’s motion for primary residential responsibility, deeming it an "extreme remedy." Instead, the court ordered that the children have no contact with Alexander and warned Laura Cote of significant consequences for non-compliance. The court also denied Adam Cote’s motion to compel discovery.In the Supreme Court of North Dakota, Adam Cote appealed the district court's orders denying his motion to modify residential responsibility and motion to compel discovery. Laura Cote cross-appealed the order finding her in contempt of court. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision in part, agreeing that the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Adam Cote’s motion to compel discovery or in finding Laura Cote in contempt of court. However, the Supreme Court found that the district court failed to make necessary findings regarding the best interest factors for the Supreme Court to provide a meaningful review of the district court’s denial of a modification of primary residential responsibility. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case with instructions to provide findings on the best interests of the children. View "Cote v. Cote" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Louisiana ruled in a case involving allegations of child sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic priest. The plaintiffs alleged that the abuse occurred between 1971 and 1979 when they were aged between eight and fourteen. The defendants argued that the claims were subject to the one-year prescriptive period for delictual actions under former La. Civ. Code art. 3536(1).While this case was pending, the legislature amended La. R.S. 9:2800.9 to revive certain prescribed child sex abuse claims for a limited three-year period. However, the court found that the statutory enactment was contrary to the due process protections enshrined in the Louisiana Constitution and must yield to that supreme law. The court reversed and vacated the trial court's decision to the extent it found the statutory enactment to be constitutional.The court determined that once liberative prescription accrues, it becomes an accrued, vested right. It noted that the right to plead prescription in defense to a claim on the obligation itself is "property that cannot be taken from [the defendant]." Hence, when a party acquires the right to plead the defense of accrued prescription, his right becomes a vested property right protected by constitutional due process guarantees.The court concluded that the legislature lacked the authority to revive the prescribed claims set forth under the facts alleged in this case. However, the court remanded the case to the trial court to rule on the exception anew after plaintiffs have had an opportunity to raise any additional arguments regarding contra non valentem and the timeliness of their claims. View "BIENVENU VS. DEFENDANT 1" on Justia Law

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In a case before the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the plaintiff, David Beavers, brought civil claims for alienation of affection and criminal conversation against his ex-wife’s alleged lover, John McMican. The main issues revolved around the interpretation of N.C.G.S. § 52-13 which specifies that post-separation conduct cannot give rise to liability, and whether the trial court improperly granted summary judgment in favor of McMican.The court determined that the Rodriguez v. Lemus decision, regarding what evidence is relevant to prove pre-separation conduct, was consistent with the legislative intent of N.C.G.S. § 52-13. The court held that evidence of post-separation conduct may be used to corroborate pre-separation conduct, as long as the pre-separation conduct gives rise to more than mere conjecture.However, the court found that the evidence of pre-separation conduct in this specific case did not rise above mere conjecture regarding the identity of Mrs. Beavers’ paramour. Consequently, the court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and held that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Mr. McMican. No sufficient evidence was presented to support the essential elements of Beavers’s claims against McMican, namely the sexual intercourse element of the criminal conversation claim, or the malice prong of the alienation of affection claim. View "Beavers v. McMican" on Justia Law

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Christine M. Nordgren's parental rights were terminated in a Minnesota state court. Instead of appealing this decision, she filed a federal lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Hennepin County, and various other parties involved in her case, alleging a range of constitutional, federal, and state claims. She sought multiple forms of damages, as well as attorney’s fees and costs. The district court dismissed all federal claims and declined to exercise jurisdiction over the state law claims. Nordgren then filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, which the district court interpreted as a request to reconsider and amend her pleadings, and denied it. Nordgren appealed this decision.The Hennepin County defendants moved to dismiss Nordgren's appeal as untimely, arguing that she did not appeal the judgment in a timely manner and that the district court's order denying her motion for reconsideration was not separately appealable and did not extend the appeal period. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit agreed with the defendants, determining that Nordgren's motion did not qualify as an appealable motion under Rule 59(e), which is designed to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. As such, the appeal period began on the date the judgment was entered, and Nordgren's notice of appeal, filed beyond the 30-day appeal period, was untimely.Therefore, the Court of Appeals dismissed Nordgren's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Nordgren v. Hennepin County" on Justia Law

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The case originates from a dispute over the jurisdiction for a child custody matter. The parties involved are Justin Aldava and Alyssa Baum, parents of H.A., a child born in Texas in 2019. The couple moved from Texas to Kentucky, then to Washington for Aldava's work, and back to Texas. Eventually, Baum and H.A. moved back to Kentucky. In November 2020, Baum filed a petition for an order of protection in Kentucky, indicating she sought temporary custody of H.A. Aldava filed a custody petition in Texas in December 2020. The issue arises from the interpretation of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), specifically the definition of "home state" and "temporary absence".The Supreme Court of Kentucky concluded that under the UCCJEA, a bright-line, objective standard should be used to determine a child's "home state" - focusing on where the child has lived in the six months preceding the custody proceeding, and not the intent of the parties. Applying this standard, the court found that neither Texas nor Kentucky had initial jurisdiction over H.A. when custody was first raised, as H.A. had not lived in any state long enough to establish "home state" status. However, Kentucky obtained temporary emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA due to Baum's petition for an order of protection. Consequently, Kentucky was the only state with any jurisdiction over H.A., and the custody action should be heard there. The court concluded that the Texas court's later finding that Texas was H.A.'s home state did not divest Kentucky of jurisdiction. The ruling was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. View "ALDAVA V. JOHNSON" on Justia Law

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In a dispute between Nancy Robayo and Luis Robayo, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island affirmed the judgment of the Family Court. The case focuses on a marital settlement agreement between the plaintiff, Nancy Robayo, and the defendant, Luis Robayo, who are former spouses. The plaintiff argued that she is entitled to survivor benefits in the defendant's federal civilian pension according to their marital settlement agreement. The agreement was silent on the issue of survivor benefits, leading the court to find it ambiguous in this regard.The Supreme Court concluded that the most equitable construction of the agreement does not entitle the plaintiff to survivor benefits. The court's decision was based on the circumstances of the parties' marriage, their separation, and the context of their agreement. The parties had lived separately in different states for sixteen years during their twenty-eight-year marriage and had acknowledged in their marital settlement agreement that they had not had a "marital relationship" since 2010. The court found that all of the plaintiff's rights to the defendant's pensions ended on June 30, 2018, as stated in the agreement.The Supreme Court also addressed the plaintiff's argument that the trial justice erred in taking judicial notice of defense counsel's experience litigating in the Family Court. The court found that this did not constitute judicial error. View "Robayo v. Robayo" on Justia Law