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Doughty v. Douglas

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

October 5, 2016

JOANNE AMY DOUGHTY APPELLANT
v.
RICHARD WILLIAM DOUGLAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26DR-13-377] HONORABLE VICKI SHAW COOK, JUDGE

          Joanne Amy Doughty, pro se appellant.

          Crawford Law Firm, by: Michael H. Crawford; and Kamps & Stotts, PLLC, by: Adrienne M. Griffis, for appellee.

          PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge

         Appellant Joanne Doughty appeals several orders of the Garland County Circuit Court pertaining to child-custody and visitation matters regarding her son, E.D., and E.D's father, appellee Richard Douglas. Due to numerous problems with her abstract and addendum, however, we must order rebriefing at this time.

         Although we order rebriefing, a history of the procedural matters between the parties is helpful in understanding our decision. Doughty and Douglas have one child together, E.D. At the time of the proceedings below, Doughty was a resident of Garland County, Arkansas, and Douglas was a resident of Australia. Doughty filed a paternity suit against Douglas in the Garland County Circuit Court.[1] The Garland County Circuit Court conducted numerous proceedings and entered several orders, including an order entered on October 6, 2014, that gave joint legal custody of E.D. to Doughty and Douglas.[2]

         The proceedings that gave rise to the instant appeal began on November 24, 2014, when Douglas filed an emergency petition to enforce the court's order, motion for contempt, and for other relief. Douglas alleged that Doughty was interfering with the visitation established in the October 6, 2014 order. He also requested immediate emergency custody due to Doughty's actions. The circuit court entered an emergency ex parte custody order the same day, placing custody of E.D. with Douglas and temporarily suspending Doughty's visitation rights. The emergency order set a hearing for December 8, 2014.

         On December 1, 2014, Douglas filed a petition for relief from order, to correct clerical error, and for interpleader to clarify orders. This petition sought clarification of the court's order with respect to the calculation of the amount of child support that was owed and asked that all funds that might be owed be held in the registry of the court. The court entered an order of interpleader on December 2, 2014, directing Douglas to pay a set amount of funds into the registry of the court.

         Doughty responded to Douglas's motions on December 2, 2014, filing a counter-motion to vacate the emergency custody order. In it, she complained that she did not receive notice of the emergency petition, that she had complied with the court's orders regarding visitation, and that the custody and visitation orders should be modified in her favor.

         The circuit court held a hearing on the emergency petition on December 8, 2014. After the hearing, the circuit court entered a "Custody Modification Order" on December 31, 2014, in which it specifically amended the October 6, 2014 custody order and placed custody of E.D. with Douglas. The court found that Doughty's visitation with E.D. should be supervised, although she could eventually be granted unsupervised visitation if she fulfilled certain conditions set by the court. Doughty filed a motion for new trial, for relief from order, to set aside order, and for emergency stay on January 9, 2015. It is not apparent from the record before us whether the circuit court ruled on this motion.

         On appeal in this matter, Doughty has filed two notices of appeal. She filed a notice of appeal on December 22, 2014 from the November 24, 2014 emergency custody order and the December 2, 2014 interpleader order. On January 29, 2015, Doughty filed her second notice of appeal, specifically designating the December 31, 2014 custody-modification order. In this second notice of appeal, Doughty asserted that she was adopting by reference her notice of appeal filed on December 22, 2014.[3]

         Doughty raises numerous arguments pertaining to the court's ex parte order, its rulings during the December 8, 2014 hearing, and its handling of those proceedings. We are unable to reach the merits of Doughty's arguments, however, due to significant errors in her abstract and addendum that require us to order rebriefing at this time.

         Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-2(a)(5)(B) provides as follows with respect to the abstract:

The abstract shall be an impartial condensation, without comment or emphasis, of the transcript (stenographically reported material). The abstract must not reproduce the transcript verbatim. No more than one page of a transcript shall be abstracted without giving a record page reference. In abstracting testimony, the first person ("I") rather than the third person ("He or She") shall be used. The question-and-answer format shall not be used. In the extraordinary situations where a short exchange cannot be converted to a first-person ...

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