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Paperwork on sexual assault appeal substandard, Alabama Supreme Court says

State Court

By William Sassani | Dec 5, 2019


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) – The Supreme Court of Alabama has affirmed a lower court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of Monument of Love Christian Life Ministry Inc. and against the appellant, known in court documents by her initials, S.B, regarding a lawsuit over the alleged assault of a minor by another minor.

In the four-page ruling issued Nov. 15, Justice Jay Mitchell wrote that there was “nothing to review on appeal.” Specifically, that when S.B. had submitted a letter to the court, she had failed to “identify any error committed by the trial court.” 

Also, Mitchell ruled her letter did not have any of the information that is required under Rule 28(a). The justice noted that her filing was similar to one she submitted to the Court of Civil Appeals. 

In that case, the appeals court said S.B. had “no table of contents, no table of cases, no statement of a cognizable legal argument, no citations to the record, and no citation to any controlling legal authority,” in her filing with the court.

After the initial ruling from the lower court, S.B.’s attorney petitioned the court to withdraw from the case. This was because “S.B had been advised of the trial court’s judgment and had been told she would need to obtain new counsel if she wished to continue pursuing the litigation.” For her appeal to the Supreme Court, S.B. chose to represent herself.

S.B. had originally filed a lawsuit against Monument of Love Christian Life Ministry because she alleged her 6-year-old son had been assaulted by another boy in the restroom of a preschool operated by the ministry. In her suit, S.B. alleged claims of negligence and wantonness against the ministry. 

Monument of Love moved for summary judgment and alleged that S.B. had not provided evidence to support her claims and that the case "was therefore identical in all material respects" to previous cases heard by the Supreme Court. The lower court agreed with Monument of Love and granted the organization’s motion for a summary judgement.

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