The Administrative Office of Courts (AOC) provides frequent training for every county’s Juvenile-Court Intake Officer (JCIO). As hard as AOC tries, their is inevitably some variance in the application of that training across Alabama’s 67 counties.
A JCIO plays an important role in the community. Much like the role that a Magistrate plays in criminal law, the JCIO must ensure that the petition has probable cause before presenting it to the court. The JCIO is essentially the filter for improper claims of dependency. This is arguably more important than the Magistrate because, once the court finds that a child is dependent, the court can make almost any ruling it wants, so long as the ruling is loosely connected to the child’s best interest.
If you find yourself in the parking lot of the Juvenile Court, with your dependency petition in hand, without a date stamp, what remedies are at your disposal to redress this injustice?
In M.S. and D.S. v. Calhoun County DHR, CL-2023-0223 (Ala. Civ. App. October 20, 2023), the Court of Civil Appeals explained that
the proper avenue to challenge the alleged refusal of a juvenile-court intake office to accept a dependency petition is the filing of a petition for the write of mandamus with this court within 14 day.
There you have it. If a JCIO, or any clerk for that matter, wrongfully refuses to accept your pleadings, the proper remedy is a writ of mandamus.