Offer of Proof

K.C.B. and D.E.B. v. B.D.C., [Ms. 2200740, Jan. 7, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2022). The court (Thompson, P.J.; Hanson and Fridy, JJ., concur; Moore and Edwards, JJ., concur in the result) reverses the Limestone Juvenile Court’s judgment in a dependency action filed by the child’s maternal grandparents and remands for the court to consider an offer of proof made by the grandparents.

The court first explains

“‘The primary reason for the offer of proof is that it better enables the trial judge to consider further the claim for admissibility of such evidence. The secondary reason is that the offer of the proposed [evidence] places the same in the official record for the benefit of the appellate court called upon to decide whether there has been error committed in the ruling.’” Ex parte Harris, 461 So. 2d 1332, 1334 (Ala. 1984) (quoting Charles W. Gamble, McElroy’s Alabama Evidence § 425.01(1) (3d ed. 1977)). “An offer of proof generally consists of the attorney’s stating to the judge what the witness would say if permitted to answer the question and what relevancy the expected answer would possess.” 3 Charles W. Gamble et al., McElroy’s Alabama Evidence § 425.01(1) (7th ed. 2020).

Ms. **6-7.

The court reiterates that “‘[w]here the relevancy of evidence is not self-evident, the proponent of it must make an offer of proof explaining its relevancy in order to preserve error.’” Hennis v. Hennis, 977 So. 2d 520, 526 (Ala. Civ. App. 2007) (quoting Systrends, Inc. v. Group 8760, LLC, 959 So. 2d 1052, 1064 (Ala. 2006)). Ms. *8.

In refusing to receive the offer of proof, “the juvenile court apparently erroneously concluded that only a parent’s current condition pertains to the issue of a child’s dependency.” Ms. *9. Consequently, the court holds that “[t]he juvenile court erred in denying the maternal grandparents’ request to make an offer of proof and for concluding, without considering the offer of proof, that the evidence the maternal grandparents sought to introduce was inadmissible.” Ms. *10.

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