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In re M.M.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 30, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF M.M., S.M., A.M., MINORS: JANE DOE APPELLANT
v.
HINDS COUNTY YOUTH COURT APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/11/2014

         HINDS COUNTY YOUTH COURT HON. WILLIAM LOUIS SKINNER II Judge

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: STACI BOZANT O'NEAL LINDSEY UNTERBRINK HERR

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: SORIE S. TARAWALLY SHERRI MURIEL FLOWERS

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. The Hinds County Youth Court adjudicated Jane Doe's[1] son A.M. a child in need of supervision and adjudicated her two younger sons S.M. and M.M. as sexually abused children. As a result of the adjudication, A.M. was removed from the mother's custody. Notice of the adjudication hearing was served at the mother's previous rather than current address. Neither the mother nor any of the children were served a summons or were present at the hearing. The mother filed a motion in the youth court to set aside the adjudication due to lack of jurisdiction. The youth court denied the motion. After having spent more than a year at a treatment facility in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS), A.M. was returned to his mother's custody at the recommendation of the State. The mother appeals the youth court's denial of her motion to set aside the judgment, asserting that the youth court lacked jurisdiction due to insufficient service of process and the absence of a voluntary waiver of notice. We agree that the youth court lacked jurisdiction due to insufficient service of process and, therefore, reverse the court's denial of her motion to set aside the judgment as void.

         FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

         ¶2. After a shelter hearing was held at Hinds County Youth Court on October 25, 2013, fifteen-year-old A.M. was placed in the custody of MDHS following reports that A.M. was "humping" his two younger siblings on a repeated basis.[2] A.M. had a history of being sexually abused, and MDHS was already involved in other proceedings with A.M. related to delinquent behavior. A.M. was placed in a juvenile male sex offender's rehabilitation facility under the supervision of MDHS, with a scheduled release date in August 2014.

         ¶3. An adjudication hearing was held on February 11, 2014. A summons for the hearing was issued on October 29, 2013, to the mother's previous address in Brandon, Mississippi, rather than to her current address in Clinton, Mississippi. Neither the mother nor any of the children were present at the hearing. The court read into the record the mother's correct address in Clinton, Mississippi.[3] At the hearing, the judge inquired of the MDHS caseworker:

[COURT]: Did you have an opportunity to talk to the parents?
[WITNESS]: I did. I actually spoke with [the mother] face-to-face
yesterday.
[COURT]: Did either parent know this [hearing] was ...

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