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Thompkins v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

June 18, 2014

KAREN DENISE THOMPKINS and NELSON FRAZIER, APPELLANTS
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES and MINOR CHILDREN, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE SCOTT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. JV-2012-9. HONORABLE TERRY SULLIVAN, JUDGE.

Leah Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant Karen Thompson.

Dusti Standridge, for appellant Nelson Frazier.

No response.

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge. PITTMAN and WOOD, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 82

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

Appellant Karen Thompkins and appellant Nelson Frazier appeal separately from the termination of their parental rights to their two sons, D.F., born on 02/03/2009, and T.F., born on 11/01/2001. The appellants' respective attorneys have each filed a no-merit brief and a motion to withdraw, stating that each appeal is without merit and that they should be relieved of counsel. We affirm both appeals.

Pursuant to Linker-Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), and Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i), each of the appellants' attorneys have addressed all of the adverse rulings made at the hearing from which the appeal arose, and explained why each adverse ruling is not a meritorious ground for reversal. Nelson Frazier was provided with a copy of his counsel's brief and motion and was informed

Page 83

of his right to file pro se points. A copy of Karen Thompkins' counsel's brief and motion were mailed to Karen's last known address, but was returned and marked " no longer here." Neither of the appellants have submitted any pro se points for reversal.

We review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo. Carroll v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2014 Ark.App. 199. At least one statutory ground must exist, in addition to a finding that it is in the child's best interest to terminate parental rights; these must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341 (Supp. 2013); M.T. v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 58 Ark.App. 302, 952 S.W.2d 177 (1997). Clear and convincing evidence is that degree of proof that will produce in the factfinder a firm conviction as to the allegation sought to be established. Anderson v. Douglas, 310 Ark. 633, 839 S.W.2d 196 (1992). The appellate inquiry is whether the trial court's finding that the disputed fact was proved by clear and convincing evidence is clearly erroneous. J.T. v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 329 Ark. 243, 947 S.W.2d 761 (1997).

On February 6, 2012, the Arkansas Department of Human Services filed a motion for emergency custody of D.F. and T.F. Attached to the petition was an affidavit stating that Karen had left the children with Karen's mother for about four weeks, and that the older child was found walking alone in the middle of the road. Karen's mother, who is bipolar and schizophrenic, had fallen asleep as a result of her medication, which allowed D.F. to exit her home unsupervised. Upon inquiry, Karen's mother could not provide phone numbers for either Karen or Nelson, and she did not know where they were. On the same day the petition was filed, the trial court entered an ex parte order for emergency DHS custody.

The trial court entered an order on February 13, 2012, finding probable cause that the emergency conditions requiring removal of the children continued to exist. On March 22, 2012, the trial court entered an adjudication order finding the juveniles to be dependent-neglected. Shortly thereafter, Karen's criminal probation was revoked for using methamphetamine and she was incarcerated through February 2013. Also during ...


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