In the Interest of J.M. and Z.M: Can a motion for new trial and notice of appeal in one document invoke appellate jurisdiction? Yes, the court answered.
By Brad Lamorgese and Eileen Costello, Family Lawyers
In this parental rights-termination case, the Supreme Court of Texas considered the issue of whether a motion for new trial and notice of appeal combined in one document can invoke appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held that the combined filing conferred jurisdiction on the appellate court. Before the trial court signed the termination order, the Mother’s trial counsel filed a “Motion for New Trial or, in the Alternative, Notice of Appeal.” The Court of Appeals dismissed the suit for want of jurisdiction. On review, the Supreme Court applied Rule of Appellate Procedure 25.1 which provides that an appeal is perfected and the appellate court’s jurisdiction is invoked when a written notice of appeal is filed with the trial court clerk. A party complies with this rule by making a bona fide attempt to invoke appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reasoned that because the combined filing expressed an intent to appeal and was partially titled a notice of appeal, it constituted a bona fide attempt to invoke appellate jurisdiction. Therefore, the combined filing invoked appellate jurisdiction.
Brad Lamorgese and Eileen Costello are family law attorneys with McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, LLP, a nationally prominent law firm and one of the largest in Texas.