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The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review centered on whether a juvenile court validly terminated a mother’s parent-child legal relationship without first entering a formal written order adjudicating her children as dependent or neglected. The juvenile court accepted the mother’s admission that her children were neglected or dependent, but did not enter a formal order before it terminated the mother’s parental rights approximately a year later. The court of appeals held that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to terminate the mother’s parental rights because it had not entered the order. The Supreme Court disagreed with the court of appeals that the trial court’s failure to enter an order adjudicating the children’s status as neglected or dependent divested the trial court of jurisdiction. Because the trial court accepted the parents’ admission, the Supreme Court concluded the purpose of the adjudicative process was met and the children’s status as neglected or dependent was established, thus permitting state intervention into the familial relationship. Moreover, both the Department and the mother proceeded as if the court had adjudicated the status of the children: the mother participated in subsequent hearings and attempted to comply with the trial court’s treatment plan; she never sought to withdraw her admission; and she never challenged the trial court’s jurisdiction or otherwise objected below to the trial court’s verbal or written termination orders finding that the children had been adjudicated neglected or dependent. Under these circumstances, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court’s failure to enter an adjudicative order confirming the children’s status as neglected or dependent did not impair the fundamental fairness of the proceedings or deprive the mother of due process. View "Colorado in Interest of J.W." on Justia Law

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In 2010, Patrick Edokpolor and Linda Iyahea filed a lawsuit against Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation for the wrongful death of their decedent, Rose Edokpolor. Grady failed to waive formal service of process, and in 2013, the trial court granted a motion under OCGA 9-11-4 for an award of the expenses that plaintiffs incurred in perfecting service. The trial court, however, reserved the amount of the award for determination at a later date. In October 2014, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Grady, but it continued to reserve the amount of the expenses of service award. Three months later, plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider and modify the summary judgment, asserting that the case was still pending (and the summary judgment was only interlocutory and, therefore, subject to reconsideration and modification) because the award of expenses remained outstanding. In September 2015, the trial court entered an order establishing the amount of the expenses to which plaintiffs were entitled, but concluding that summary judgment was final and no longer subject to reconsideration or modification. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing the trial court erred when it awarded summary judgment to Grady, and arguing that summary judgment still was appealable because the expenses award remained outstanding until September 2015. The Court of Appeals disagreed and dismissed the appeal, concluding that the reserved issue about expenses under OCGA 9-11-4 (d) (4) was “ancillary” to the case and, therefore, the summary judgment was a final judgment that had to be appealed within 30 days. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed: because this reserved issue remained pending at the time the trial court awarded summary judgment to Grady, the summary judgment was not a “final judgment[ ]” under OCGA 5-6-34 (a) (1), and plaintiffs were not required to bring their appeal within 30 days of that judgment. View "Edokpolor v. Grady Memorial Hospital Corp." on Justia Law

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Wife and Husband were divorced in 1995; the final decree of divorce incorporated a settlement agreement that provided for child support and at least half of his Armed Services retirement pay monthly. The child support obligation terminated in 2006, and his first payment of retirement benefits was due to Wife the following month. Husband, however, never paid. Although Wife employed attorneys to demand payment from Husband, Wife took no court action until February 25, 2016, when she filed a motion for contempt. The trial court held that the first payment of retirement benefits became due on July 1, 2006, and the judgment went dormant on July 1, 2013. Although filing a scire facias within three years of dormancy would have revived the judgment if it were dormant, Wife made no such filing. Therefore, the trial court held: that although Husband “clearly and knowingly failed to uphold his obligations under the decree,” it could not hold him in contempt. The Georgia Supreme Court determined the trial court erred in its analysis: Wife’s first viable opportunity to enforce the judgment occurred in July of 2006, when the initial payment became due. The dormancy period did not begin to run until each installment is due. Here, installments that became due within seven years preceding the issuance and recording of the execution are collectible and enforceable. Installments that were dormant remain subject to revival pursuant to OCGA 9-12-61. View "Holmes-Bracy v. Bracy" on Justia Law

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Taxpayer TransCanada Hydro appealed a superior court decision that valued flow easements that taxpayer owned over land in the Town of Newbury at $1,532,211 for property tax purposes. Taxpayer owned and operated the Wilder Dam on the Connecticut River in Hartford, Vermont, downstream from Newbury, and the flow easements gave taxpayer the right to flood land abutting the river in Newbury. Taxpayer argued the valuation was unsupported by the admissible evidence and the court’s reasoning. Finding no reversible error in the superior court’s valuation, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "TransCanada Hydro Northeast, Inc. v. Town of Newbury" on Justia Law

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The Environmental Division approved a conditional use permit for Confluence Behavioral Health, LLC’s proposed community therapeutic residence in Thetford. A group of neighbors appealed the decision, arguing the Environmental Division improperly concluded that Confluence’s therapeutic community residence (the Project) was a health care facility, and thus was an allowed conditional use under the Thetford zoning ordinance. Neighbors also argued the Project’s residential use required separate permitting and that it impermissibly established a nonconforming use. Finding no abuse of discretion or reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Confluence Behavioral Health, LLC Conditional Use Permit" on Justia Law

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R.W.D. appealed a juvenile court order terminating his parental rights to his two children, K.S.D. and J.S.D. After a review of the juvenile court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded clear and convincing evidence established that the children were deprived, the deprivation was likely to continue, and the children had been in foster care at least 450 of 660 nights. The Court also concluded active efforts to prevent the breakup of this Indian family were made and those efforts have been unsuccessful. However, the Court found nothing in the record to satisfy the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) requirement of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of a qualified expert witness, that continued custody by the parents would likely result in serious emotional or physical damage to the children. Accordingly, though the Court retained jurisdiction over this case, it remanded for testimony from an ICWA qualified expert witness. View "Interest of K.S.D." on Justia Law

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Jane Doe and John Doe (2017-19) (“Mother,” “Father,” and collectively, “Parents”) appealed a magistrate court’s Final Judgment terminating their parental rights to Jane Doe II (“Child”). Jane Doe I and John Doe I (“Grandmother,” “Grandfather”) initiated the underlying action by filing a Petition for Termination of Parental Rights and a Petition for Adoption. The magistrate court issued a Final Judgment terminating Parents’ parental rights after concluding that Parents had abandoned Child and that the termination of Parents’ parental rights was in Child’s best interest. On appeal, Parents challenged the magistrate court’s conclusion that Child was abandoned and that termination of parental rights was in Child’s best interest. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the termination. View "John & Jane Doe (2017-19) v. John & Jane Doe I" on Justia Law

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Joseph and Monique Howeth’s home shared a driveway with their neighbor Tina Coffelt’s. After the parties were unable to amicably share the driveway in accordance with an easement governing its use, the Howeths sued Coffelt, seeking injunctive relief. The parties ultimately reached a settlement agreement, which included a stipulation to the entry of judgment to resolve the lawsuit. The agreement also purported to allow the parties to seek a $1,000 fine in court if the other neighbor refused to comply with the agreement. When Coffelt allegedly began to ignore the agreement's restrictions on the use of the driveway, the Howeths filed a postjudgment motion seeking an "interim judgment" awarding them $12,000 in fines, plus attorney fees. The trial court denied the motion, finding that it did not have continuing jurisdiction to consider the motion and directed the Howeths to file a new lawsuit for breach of contract. The Howeths appealed, arguing the trial court had continuing jurisdiction to enforce the stipulated judgment and erred in denying the motion. The Court of Appeal concluded the judgment at issue here was a consent judgment, entered pursuant to a settlement agreement and a stipulation for judgment based on that agreement. Consent judgments are not appealable. The Court of Appeal determined that the Howeths did not attempt to enforce the judgment that resulted from the agreement between the parties, instead seeking to determine whether Coffelt had breached the agreement. Thus, the Court surmised, the order denying the Howeths’ motion was not appealable after judgment, and the appeal had to be dismissed. View "Howeth v. Coffelt" on Justia Law

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Fred Kamgar appealed a judgment ordering him to pay his wife Moira Kamgar $1,952,056.50 for breach of his spousal fiduciary duties in failing to disclose to her that he engaged in options trading, and traded an additional $8 million more than the $2.5 million in community assets she agreed he could trade in their investment account. The trial court determined Fred’s undisclosed and reckless trading resulted in a loss of almost $4 million, in addition to losing the initial $2.5 million. Fred contended the evidence did not support the conclusion he violated his fiduciary duties. Moira contended she was entitled to more than the $1.9 million award she received as her community interest in the $4 million loss. Finding the law and the evidence amply supported the trial court’s award, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "In re Marriage of Kamgar" on Justia Law

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Paternal grandparents sought a court order for visitation with their grandson. The superior court denied their request because they did not allege that the child suffered any detriment from a lack of court-ordered visitation. Finding no reversible error in that denial, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed: “[t]he balance of interests that due process requires was resolved in favor of the parents, and the result is the ‘showing of detriment’ test which the grandparents here have failed to even argue they could satisfy.” View "Jordan v. Watson" on Justia Law