Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Ten Thousand Views
Thanks to everyone for reading. Looks like I hit 10,000 views sometime yesterday. Anyway, Mississippi Court of Appeals had an interesting case yesterday with Pritchett v. Pritchett located here. The Pritchetts were divorced in 2011 after James was sentenced to serve five years for fondling his niece. Ms. Pritchett then filed to terminate Mr. Pritchett's parental rights. The motion was granted. On appeal, Mr. Pritchett argues that because he was indigent, he should have been appointed an attorney and he should have also been transported from the prison and allowed to be present at the hearing. The Court of Appeals reverses and remands because for one thing, the chancellor never addressed Section 93-15-103, which sets out three prerequisites that must be met before the court may invoke any specific ground for termination. The first prerequisite is that the child has been removed from the home of [his] natural parents and cannot be returned to the home of his natural parents within a reasonable length of time or the parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child. That was not the case here. The appellate court ordered the trial court to determine if counsel was appropriate and also seemed to hint that there was insufficient grounds for termination. By my count, this is the second opinion since Chism v. Bright interpreting termination of parental rights. One case now says it remains an independent action, this cases says it is not. At some point this is going to have to be cleared up by the Court or the legislature. Most attorneys and chancellor now are not sure what exactly the law is in this situation now.