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Jung v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

October 1, 2014

BRANDY JUNG, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES and N.E., MINOR CHILD, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT. NO. JV-12-33. HONORABLE GERALD K. CROW, JUDGE.

Leah Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, Dependency-Neglect Appellate Division, for Appellant.

Tabitha Baertels McNulty, Office of Policy and Legal Services, for appellee.

TAMMY RENNE MULLINS.

PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge.

OPINION

Page 556

PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge.

Appellant Brandy Jung appeals from a Carroll County Circuit Court order terminating her parental rights to her child, N.E.[1] She challenges the court's finding that termination was in the best interest of the child as well as its finding that there were statutory grounds present on which to base a termination. Because these findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence, we affirm.

I. Standard of Review

Termination of parental rights is an extreme remedy and in derogation of the natural rights of the parents. Jones-Lee v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2009 Ark.App. 160, 316 S.W.3d 261. However, courts are not to enforce parental rights to the detriment or destruction of the health and well-being of a child. Id. An order terminating parental rights must be based on the court's finding by clear and convincing evidence that termination

Page 557

is in the best interest of the juvenile, taking into consideration (1) the likelihood that the juvenile will be adopted if the termination petition is granted and (2) the potential harm, specifically addressing the effect on the health and safety of the child, caused by returning the child to the custody of the parent. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(A)(i) & (ii) (Supp. 2013). Additionally, the trial court must also find by clear and convincing evidence that one or more statutory grounds for termination exists. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B) (Supp. 2013). We review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo, but we do not reverse unless the circuit court's clear-and-convincing evidence findings are clearly erroneous. Pratt v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2012 Ark.App. 399, 413 S.W.3d 261

II. Procedural History

A de novo review of the record reveals that N.E. was born in January 2012. Four months later, in May 2012, he was taken into the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). The police notified DHS that Jung had been arrested for commercial burglary, theft of property, and second-degree child endangerment after she was found at an abandoned hotel where alleged copper theft was occurring. The police needed DHS intervention because N.E. was in Jung's care at the time of her arrest. Evans, the father, was also present; however, there was an active order of protection against him related to a domestic-violence ...


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