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Home / Opinion Digests / Domestic Relations / Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Appeals – No-Merit Brief – Client’s Disappearance – First Impression

Domestic Relations – Parent & Child – Termination of Parental Rights – Appeals – No-Merit Brief – Client’s Disappearance – First Impression

Given the constitutional right at issue in termination-of-parental-rights cases, when appellate counsel files a no-merit brief but cannot find his client, we must consider such situations on a case-by-case basis. In this case, due to the exhaustive – but unsuccessful – efforts of appellate counsel to reach the respondent-the father, and in the exercise of our discretion, we invoke N.C. R. App. 2 to expedite a decision in the public interest, and we suspend N.C. R. App. P. 3.1(d)’s mandatory requirement that, when counsel files a no-merit brief, counsel must also provide the appellant with case documents and advise the appellant of his option of filing a pro se brief.

Since the father did not exercise his right under Rule 3.1(d) to file a pro se brief, no issues have been argued or preserved for review in accordance with our Rules of Appellate Procedure.

We dismiss both parents’ appeals of the order terminating their parental rights.

The respondent-mother’s counsel complied with all requirements of Rule 3.1(d), and the mother did not exercise her right under Rule 3.1(d) to file a pro se brief. No issues have been argued or preserved for review in accordance with our Rules of Appellate Procedure.

In re D.A. (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-318-18, 7 pp.) (Hunter Murphy, J.) (Richard Dietz, J., concurring in the result only without separate opinion) Appealed from Forsyth County District Court (Lisa Menefee, J.) Jeffrey William Gillette and Richard Croutharmel for respondents; Theresa Boucher for petitioner; Matthew Wunsche for guardian ad litem. N.C. App.


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