The State ex rel. Garrett
Submitted November 21, 2017
L. Smith, for relator.
P. Fry, Belmont County Prosecuting Attorney, and David K.
Liberati, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for respondent.
1} This original action involves an interstate
adoption dispute between the grandmother and aunt of a minor
child. Relator, Tamalie Garrett, seeks a writ of prohibition
against respondent, Belmont County Probate Judge J. Mark
Costine, to require him to vacate an order granting the
adoption petition filed by Tamalie's daughter, Elizabeth
Garrett. Because Judge Costine patently and unambiguously
lacked jurisdiction over the adoption petition, we grant the
writ and order Judge Costine to vacate the adoption decree
entered in Belmont County Probate Court case No. 16 AD 23.
2} Tamalie's granddaughter, G.G., was born on
June 29, 2011, in West Virginia to Amanda Garrett.
West Virginia litigation
3} In December 2011, the Family Court of Hancock
County, West Virginia, entered an agreed order of
guardianship. The order designated Elizabeth Garrett,
Amanda's sister, as G.G.'s legal guardian,
see W.Va.Code Ann. 44-10-1 et seq., and awarded
Tamalie visitation with G.G. on a weekly basis and annually
on Christmas Day and the day after Christmas.
4} In the summer of 2012, Elizabeth and G.G. moved
to Ohio. There is no indication that Tamalie ever sought to
register the visitation order in Ohio. Four years later, on
July 26, 2016, Tamalie filed a petition in the West Virginia
family court to modify the 2011 visitation order. The next
month she filed a petition to hold Elizabeth in contempt for
violating the 2011 visitation order. Elizabeth and Tamalie
entered mediation and, on October 21, 2016, they advised the
West Virginia court that they had reached an agreement with
regard to the parenting and visitation issues involved in the
5} In April 2017, based on the developments detailed
below, the West Virginia court dismissed Tamalie's
petition for contempt without prejudice.
6} Unbeknownst to Tamalie, on October 19, 2016,
while the petitions to modify visitation and for contempt
were pending in West Virginia, Elizabeth filed a petition to
adopt G.G. in Belmont County Probate Court. The parties
stipulate that at some point before the filing of the
adoption petition, Amanda, the biological mother,
"executed a permanent surrender agreement
regarding" G.G. and that the Belmont County ...