Petition of Beggiani, s. 58329

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation519 So.2d 1208
Docket NumberNos. 58329,58417,s. 58329
PartiesPetition of H.N. BEGGIANI and Ann Beggiani For Adoption of Children Mentioned in Petition; Bonnie J. PRANTE v. H.N. BEGGIANI and Ann Beggiani. In the Interest of B.L.P. and C.M.P., Minors. MISSISSIPPI STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, H.N. "Buddy" and Ann Beggiani v. Bonnie J. PRANTE.
Decision Date03 February 1988

Lisa B. Milner, Binder, Milner & Milner, Jackson, for Beggiani.

Eileen Q. Gault, Joe Gentile, Jackson, for Mississippi Dept. of Public Welfare.


ZUCCARO, Justice, for the Court:

The present case represents the consolidation of two (2) appeals that will determine the future of two (2) minors, B.L.P. and C.M.P. Bonnie J. Prante, the maternal

grandmother of the children, appeals an April 2, 1987 judgment of the Chancery Court of Hinds County, ordering the adoption of said children by H.N. Beggiani and Ann Beggiani. The State Department of Public Welfare, and the Beggianis, appeal a December 29, 1986 order of the Youth Court of Carroll County granting custody of B.L.P. and C.M.P. to Mrs. Prante. We affirm the decision of the Chancery Court of Hinds County, and reverse that of the Youth Court of Carroll County.


On March 3, 1986, the natural mother of B.L.P. and C.M.P. brought them to the Carrollton office of the Carroll County Welfare Department, stating that she wanted to release the children for adoption. At that time, B.L.P., a female, was twenty-six (26) months old and C.M.P., a male, was fourteen (14) months old. The children showed signs of neglect, and were not in good physical health. As the natural mother further stated that she did not want to take B.L.P. and C.M.P. home with her, the Welfare Department took charge of the children.

On March 4, 1986, a shelter hearing was conducted in the Youth Court of Carroll County concerning the future of B.L.P. and C.M.P. Pursuant to a petition filed by the Welfare Department, B.L.P. and C.M.P. were placed in the custody of George W. Tuberville, county welfare director, for placement in an appropriate environment pending a hearing set for March 31, 1986. Subsequently, on March 12, 1986, the natural mother signed a surrender of parental rights and consent to adoption form.

On March 31, 1986, the Youth Court held a hearing concerning B.L.P. and C.M.P., and adjudicated them to be neglected children within the meaning of the Youth Court Act. The Youth Court continued custody with the Welfare Department, and ordered that it institute procedures to secure social and personal information on Bonnie J. Prante, the maternal grandmother and a resident of Colorado, from the appropriate Colorado agency, so that the court could determine at a later date if placement of the children with her was feasible.

The children were placed by the Welfare Department with the Beggiani family in Jackson, Mississippi on April 2, 1986. Placement of B.L.P. and C.M.P. with the Beggianis followed two (2) unsuccessful attempts to find homes for the children, which failed due to the burden presented by caring for two (2) infants. The Beggianis cherished having B.L.P. and C.M.P. in their home, finding them not too much to handle, and on May 13, 1986, they filed a petition for adoption of the children in the Chancery Court of Hinds County. In response to the Beggiani's adoption petition, Mrs. Prante filed on May 29, 1986 a motion to dismiss or alternatively an objection to the adoption and a motion for custody. Subsequently, on July 2, 1986, Mrs. Prante filed a petition for custody of the minor children in the Youth Court of Carroll County, to which the Beggianis filed a motion to dismiss. After due consideration, both courts refused to relinquish jurisdiction of the separate matters.

A trial before the Youth Court of Carroll County was held in October, 1986 to consider the petition of Mrs. Prante for custody of B.L.P. and C.M.P. Two (2) months later, on December 29, 1986, the Youth Court entered an order granting Mrs. Prante custody of the two (2) children. The children remained in the custody of the Beggianis, who have appealed the Youth Court's decision.

On March 19, 1987 the adoption petition of the Beggianis was heard by the Chancery Court of Hinds County, which by an opinion dated March 24, 1987, found that the best interest of the children would be promoted by an adoption by the Beggianis. A final judgment of adoption was entered on April 3, 1987, from which Mrs. Prante has appealed.


Mrs. Prante argues that when the Youth Court of Carroll County entered its 43-21-151. Jurisdiction.

shelter order on March 4, 1986 concerning B.L.P. and C.M.P., it obtained exclusive and original jurisdiction of the children through their twentieth birthday. Prante's contention is sounded in Sec. 43-21-151 of the Mississippi Code (1972) which provides in pertinent part:

(1) The youth court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all proceedings concerning a delinquent child, a child in need of supervision, a neglected child, an abused child or a dependent child.

(2) Jurisdiction of the child in the cause shall attach at the time of the offense and shall continue thereafter for that offense until the child's twentieth birthday, unless sooner terminated by order of the youth court. The youth court shall not have jurisdiction over offenses committed by a child on or after his eighteenth birthday. (emphasis added)

As exclusive and original jurisdiction over the children was vested in the Youth Court from and after March 4, 1986 Prante argues, it was improper for the Beggianis to file a petition for adoption in the Chancery Court of Hinds County on May 13, 1986, and for that court to enter a final decree of adoption on April 2, 1987. The Chancery Court of Hinds County had taken and retained jurisdiction of the adoption under the directives of Miss.Code Ann. Sec. 93-17-3 which provides in relevant part that:

Who may be adopted--who may adopt--venue of adoption proceedings--change of name.

Such adoption shall be by sworn petition filed in the chancery court of the county in which the adopting petitioner or petitioners reside or in which the child to be adopted resides or was born, or was found when it was abandoned or deserted, or in which the home is located to which the child shall have been surrendered by a person authorized to so do. (emphasis added)

When the May 13, 1986 petition for adoption was filed, both the Beggianis and the children were living in Hinds County.

It is a well established rule in this jurisdiction that where two (2) suits between the same parties over the same controversy are brought in courts of concurrent jurisdiction, the court which first acquires jurisdiction retains jurisdiction over the whole controversy to the exclusion or abatement of the second suit. Hancock v. Farm Bureau Ins. Co., 403 So.2d 877 (Miss.1981); Huffman v. Griffin, 337 So.2d 715 (Miss.1976); Martin v. O'Brien, 34 Miss. 21 (1857). Further, it has been stated, in regard to the "priorty of jurisdiction" rule that:

In order that the rule may be applicable which prevents interference by another court with the jurisdiction of the court first assuming it, the second action should be between the same parties, seeking on the one hand, and opposing on the other, the same remedy, and should relate to the same question. (emphasis added)

21 C.J.S. Courts Sec. 492, at 751 (1940). As such, for Mrs. Prante's argument that the "priorty of jurisdiction" rule made improper the Hinds County Chancery Court adoption proceeding, there must, of necessity, be a determination that both actions involved the same controversy, the same remedy, and that such related to the same question.

The Supreme Court of Missouri considered an almost identical set of facts as presented by the case sub judice, as it concerns the priorty of jurisdiction rule. In State ex rel. Grimstead v. Mueller, 361 Mo. 92, 233 S.W.2d 700 (1950), the Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court of Bates County, Missouri had, on February 3, 1948, entered a decree finding Sandra Lee Grimstead a neglected and abandoned child within the meaning of Missouri statutory law and ordered that said child be transferred to the Missouri Department of Public Health and Welfare. The minor was placed, on July 11, 1949, with Edward E. Kricensky and Sabina F. Kricensky, residents of St. Louis County, Missouri. On April 7, 1950 Mr. and Mrs. Kricensky filed their petition for the adoption of Sandra Lee Grimstead in the Juvenile Division of This article shall apply to children under the age of seventeen (17) years,....: Provided, that when jurisdiction has been acquired under the provisions hereof over the person of a child, such jurisdiction shall continue, for the purpose of this article, until the child shall have attained its majority;.... (emphasis added)

the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. Della Mae Grimstead, the natural mother of the minor objected to the adoption proceeding on the basis that the Bates County court had obtained and retained exclusive jurisdiction over the minor, until majority, when it previously decreed the child to be neglected and abandoned. This position was substantiated on the basis of Sec. 9673, R.S.Mo.1939 which provided that:

The Circuit Court of St. Louis County refused to relinquish jurisdiction, and Grimstead appealed while the adoption was still pending.

In reviewing the appeal, the Supreme Court of Missouri stated that when a juvenile court has assumed jurisdiction of a neglected or abandoned child pursuant to the above statute, its jurisdiction supersedes that of any and all other courts touching the same subject matter. On this basis, the court found that:

The "same...

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