Writ of Prohibition - Blevins v. Boller


Blevins v. Boller, [Ms. 2150969, Jan. 6, 2017] __ So.3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2017). The Court of Civil Appeals dismisses an appeal from a Baldwin Circuit Court order construing a "motion for order of interpleader" filed by a law firm to protect funds allegedly owed pursuant to the attorney lien statute as a request for injunctive relief.

"An injunction is defined as '[a] court order commanding or preventing an action.' " Dawkins v. Walker, 794 So. 2d 333, 335 Ala. 2001) (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 788 (7th ed. 1999)). " ' [I] has long been the law that substance, not nomenclature, is "the determining factor regarding the nature of a party's pleadings or motions." ' " Ex parte Alabama Dep't of Mental Health, [Ms. 2150415, April 22, 2016] __ So. 3d __, __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2016) (quoting Chamblee v. Duncan, 188 So. 3d 682, 691 (Ala. Civ. App. 2015), quoting in turn Eddins v. State, 160 So. 3d 18, 20 (Ala. Civ. App. 2014)). Under the circumstances of this case, we determine that the substance of the law firm's "Motion for Order of Interpleader" constituted a request for injunctive relief, i.e., an order commanding action by Blevins, and that the trial court's June 24, 2016, interlocutory order issued an injunction requiring Blevins to transfer the funds to the trial court."

Ms. *10. The proper means for obtaining appellate review of an interlocutory order issuing an injunction is through an appeal. Ex parte State Pers. Bd., 45 So. 3d 751 (Ala. 2010). Rule 4(a)(1)(A), Ala. R. App. P., provides that a notice of appeal challenging such an order must be filed within 14 days of the date of the entry of the "interlocutory order granting, continuing, modifying, refusing, or dissolving an injunction, or refusing to dissolve or modify an injunction." Because appellate review was sought of the Baldwin Circuit Court's order more than 14 days after that order was entered, the appeal was untimely and was therefore required to be dismissed.

The attorney also sought a writ of prohibition in anticipation of a scheduled hearing which sought to hold the attorney in contempt for failing to pay over the funds allegedly subject to the attorney's lien. The attorney contended the Baldwin Circuit Court had lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the proceeding or personal jurisdiction over him. Ms. *12. The Court of Civil Appeals first notes "The filing of a petition for a writ of prohibition is the proper procedure for challenging a trial court's jurisdiction in a contempt proceeding." Id., citing Ex parte Segrest, 718 So. 2d 1 (Ala. 1998). The court then provides a helpful description of the required elements for issuance of such a writ:

"[A] writ of prohibition is not only an extraordinary writ, but a drastic one which is to be employed with extreme caution. Ex parte Burch, 236 Ala. 662, 184 So. 694 (1938). It should be used only in cases of extreme necessity. Burch, 236 Ala. 662, 184 So. 694. It is not a favored writ and will be invoked only where the petition shows on its face that the court below does not have jurisdiction to do or perform an act of judicial nature which it is proposing to perform. Hudson v. Sparks, 272 Ala. 203, 129 So. 2d 664 (1961)."

Ex parte State Dep't of Mental Health & Mental Retardation, 536 So. 2d at 79-80.

"[T]here are generally four prerequisites to the issuance of a writ of prohibition: '(1) usurpation or abuse of power by an inferior judicial or quasi-judicial tribunal, (2) lack of another adequate remedy, (3) injury to the petitioner, and (4) presentation of the question before the inferior tribunal before resorting to the writ.' Barber Pure Milk Co. v. Alabama State Milk Control Bd., 274 Ala. 563, 565, 150 So. 2d 693, 695 (1963)."

Ex parte Segrest, 718 So. 2d at 4 n. 2.

Ms. *13. Because the attorney preemptively filed the petition for a writ of prohibition before first affording the Baldwin Circuit Court the opportunity to rule upon whether it obtained subject-matter or personal jurisdiction, one of the required elements for issuance of such a writ had not been presented such that his petition was due to be denied.


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