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Allums v. Allums

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 31, 2017

DONYALE WILLIAMS ALLUMS
v.
CEDRICK LELAND ALLUMS

         APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2010-00699, DIVISION "E" Honorable Clare Jupiter, Judge

          Court composed of Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Regina Bartholomew Woods, Judge Paula A. Brown

          PAULA A. BROWN, JUDGE.

         This matter involves a child custody dispute. The pro se devolutive appeal of the father, Cedrick L. Allums, contends that the trial court erred in its interim judgment of June 19, 2014, which awarded the mother sole custody of their two minor children and limited him to supervised visitation. The judgment gave the parties the right to modify its terms after a period of six months. For the reasons that follow, we dismiss the appeal as moot.

         FACTS/PROCEEDINGS BELOW

         The mother, Donyale Williams Allums, filed a counseled petition for divorce on January 21, 2010. The petition alleged Mr. Allums and she had two children. A default judgment of divorce was entered on April 14, 2011. On May 28, 2014, Ms. Allums filed a Petition For Protection From Abuse With Order of Protection and a Petition To Establish Custody. In response to the Order of Protection, Mr. Allums filed a reconventional demand, seeking protection from the mother. The trial court conducted a hearing on the custody and protective order issues on June 17, 2014. Both parties were self-represented at the hearing.

         Ms. Allums testified she sought protection from Mr. Allums because of his constant harassment. According to Ms. Allums, Mr. Alums wanted to reclaim her as his wife, but she rebuffed his reconciliation attempts. As a result of her rejection, Mr. Allums constantly called her, left voicemail messages, and sent her e-mails. Ms. Allums claimed he contacted her employer, her mother, and her pastor. He also sent letters in which he referenced her as a slut and a whore. Ms. Allums urged the trial court to award her custody because she was employed and could provide stability for their children.

         Mr. Allums countered Ms. Allums was a proven liar. He stated she was cited with filing a false police report in 2008. Mr. Allums suggested conspiracies against male authority caused the trial court judge to be biased against him. He accused the judge of a lack of impulse control and asserted she prohibited his free speech.

         Notably, Mr. Allums did not confirm whether or not he was employed. He claimed he was waiting on his union electrician card. Mr. Allums also failed to provide a permanent address. He testified he had lived in homeless shelters and in his car. He acknowledged Ms. Allums had brought the children to visit him under the Lakefront Bridge.

         At the end of the trial, the trial court accredited Ms. Allums' testimony. The interim judgment, without prejudice to either party, granted Ms. Allums sole custody of the children and Mr. Allums supervised visitation at the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Harmony House. The judgment provided either party could bring a rule to modify its terms after a period of six months.[1]

         Mr. Allums timely filed a devolutive motion for appeal[2] on July 17, 2014, which was signed by the trial court. Mr. Allums requested a waiver of court fees. [3]

         The record was lodged in this Court on January 9, 2017. Mr. Allums filed his brief on February 21, 2017.[4]

         DISCUSSION

         The underlying issue presented by Mr. Allums' appeal is whether the trial court abused its authority in awarding the mother interim sole custody and in limiting him to supervised visitations. However, before we can address the merits, this Court must first consider whether the present appeal presents ...


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