Arkansas Dep’t Of Human Servs. v. Shipman – Case Brief Summary (Arkansas)

In Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs. v. Shipman, 25 Ark. App. 247, 756 S.W.2d 930 (1988), the Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a notice of appeal that stated that DHS was appealing from a September 4, 1987, order appointing a Mr. and Mrs. Boudra as continuing custodians of a child in foster care.

The Court held that that notice of appeal was insufficient under Rule 3(e) to effect an appeal by three individual DHS employees who had been held in criminal contempt of court by the same chancellor in an August 28, 1987, order.

The Court held that a contemner who is not a named party in the original proceeding but who is held in contempt must file a notice of appeal in his own right, specifying that he is appealing from the order holding him in contempt.

The Court held that the appellant's failure to specify an order in its notice of appeal was fatal to our jurisdiction to review it.

In Shipman, the trial court had entered several orders in a foster-care case. One order dated August 28, 1987, held two social workers and their attorney in criminal contempt of court, and another dated September 4, 1987, related to the merits of the case. The Arkansas Department of Human Services filed a notice of appeal designating only the order dated September 4, 1987, but not the August 28, 1987, criminal-contempt order.

The Court reviewed the merits of the court's decision as contained in the September 4 order, but declined to review the court's criminal-contempt ruling, stating:

While we agree that the action of the trial court was inexcusable and could not withstand appellate review, we reluctantly must conclude that the propriety of that action is not properly before us for review. The notice of appeal filed in this case stated that the Department of Human Services appealed from the court's order entered on September 4, 1987. It made no reference to the two social workers or attorney or that they were taking an appeal from the August 28 order holding them in contempt.

Although it is readily apparent that the employees of the Department intended to appeal from their convictions of criminal contempt, we have held that a notice of appeal must be judged by what it recites and not by what it was intended to recite. Garland v. Windsor Door, 19 Ark. App. 284, 719 S.W.2d 714 (1986). (Shipman, 25 Ark. App. at 252-53, 756 S.W.2d at 933.)