State of Utah, in the interest of W.A.

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State of Utah, in the interest of W.A., a person under eighteen years of age, Case No. 20000461-CA, Filed February 23, 2001 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


State of Utah, in the interest of W.A.,
a person under eighteen years of age.



State of Utah,

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20000461-CA

February 23, 2001 2001 UT App 50  -----

Third District Juvenile, Salt Lake Department
The Honorable Olof A. Johansson

Scott L. Wiggins, Salt Lake City, for Appellant
Mark Shurtleff and Carol L.C. Verdoia, Salt Lake City, for Appellee
Martha Pierce, Salt Lake City, Guardian Ad Litem -----

Before Judges Jackson, Bench, and Davis.


This case is before the court on appellant's motion for summary disposition. Appellant's motion, filed the date his brief was due, argues that because the order terminating his parental rights did not certify his case for appeal in accordance with Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), it was not final for purposes of appeal. He further maintains that the time for filing his notice of appeal did not begin to run until December 5, 2000, when the court ruled on D.A.'s postjudgment motion.

Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-909(1) (1996) provides that "[a]n appeal to the Court of Appeals may be taken from any order, decree, or judgment of the juvenile court." The order terminating E.A.'s parental rights was clearly an "order, decree, or judgment" of the juvenile court, and was therefore appealable even though it did not adjudicate the petition as to D.A. In State in re E.M., 922 P.2d 1282 (Utah Ct. App. 1996), we considered whether Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-51(1) (1992), which stated that an appeal could be taken from any order of the juvenile court, permitted the appellant to appeal findings and conclusions entered after a child welfare adjudication even though the court had not yet made a final dispositional order.(1) We recognized that "[t]he unique nature of child welfare proceedings compels us to apply an analysis different from the analysis traditionally applied in civil cases, which dictates an appeal as a matter of right 'can be taken only from the entry of a final judgment that concludes the action.'" Id. at 1284. (citation omitted). We concluded that inasmuch as the trial court's findings and conclusions constituted a determination on the merits of the abuse petition, the order was final and appealable under section 78-3a-51(1). Id.

The analysis employed in E.M. applies here. The juvenile court's order expressly stated that E.A.'s parental rights were permanently terminated. The order thus constituted a final determination of his parental rights. Although D.A.'s parental rights had yet to be adjudicated, any subsequent order dealing with her parental rights would not have altered the result as to E.A. In addition, requiring E.A. to wait until D.A.'s parental rights were adjudicated before an appeal could be taken would not further the objective that child welfare proceedings should be concluded as quickly as possible. See, e.g., A.E. v. Christean, 938 P.2d 811, 814 (Utah Ct. App. 1997); State in re J.L.W., 900 P.2d 543, 549 (Utah Ct. App. 1995).

Accordingly, the motion is denied. Appellant's opening brief shall be filed and served not later than 30 days from the date of this decision.

Norman H. Jackson,
Associate Presiding Judge

Russell W. Bench, Judge

James Z. Davis, Judge

1. Section 78-3a-51(1) is presently codified at Utah Code Ann. § 78-3a-909(1) (1996).