Subject Matter Jurisdiction - Appeal From District Circuit Court - Dillard v. Lepore


Dillard v. LePore, [Ms. 2160295, July 14, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2017). In an opinion by Judge Thomas (Thompson, P.J., Pittman and Donaldson, JJ., concur; Moore, J., concurs in the result), the court dismisses an appeal from the circuit court's judgment in a child custody case. The case had originated in juvenile court and was appealed to circuit court by the father. However, the father's appeal to circuit court was taken before the juvenile court entered judgment.

The court held that although the juvenile court subsequently purported to enter a final judgment after the father had appealed to circuit court, that judgment was a nullity because the father's appeal to circuit court deprived the juvenile court of jurisdiction. Ms. at *6. Relatedly, because a final judgment had not yet been entered in the district court at the time the father appealed to the circuit court, the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to conduct a trial de novo regarding the custody issues raised in the action. Ms. at *7. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal with instructions to the circuit court to vacate its void judgment and to transfer the matter back to juvenile court at which time the juvenile court will reacquire subject matter jurisdiction to enter a final judgment. Ibid.

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