In the Interest of B.R.F. f/k/a B.R.M.Annotate this Case
Appellee Mother’s parental rights were terminated on January 14, 2013. Since Mother was indigent, she was represented by appointed counsel during the termination proceedings at juvenile court. In a letter that was apparently written prior to the issuance of the final termination of rights order, trial counsel told Mother that he could not represent her in an appeal, that she was not entitled to indigent defense for the discretionary appeal of a civil case, and that she should contact the public defender if she had questions or needed the appointment of another lawyer. On February 13, 2013, Mother, who was acting pro se, filed a notice of appeal in the juvenile court; but, months later, the juvenile court dismissed the notice of appeal because Mother was required to seek review by discretionary application. Mother, now represented by a new attorney, filed an “application for an out-of-time discretionary appeal,” requesting review of the January 2013 termination of rights order. Having decided it could grant the application for out-of-time discretionary review, the Court of Appeals went on to consider the merits and ultimately affirmed the termination of Mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court granted the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services’ (“the State’s”) petition for certiorari to decide whether the Court of Appeals erred in finding that an appellate court had the authority to excuse the untimely filing of a discretionary application in a civil parental termination case. The Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals' judgment so that the appellate court could issue an order dismissing Mother’s application for out-of-time discretionary review.