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Heflin v. Arkansas Dept. of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

March 11, 2015

ABRAM HEFLIN, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES and MINOR CHILD, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 23JV-13-116. HONORABLE DAVID M. CLARK, JUDGE.

AFFIRMED; MOTION GRANTED.

Leah Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.

Tabitha B. McNulty, Arkansas Department of Human Services; and Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, for appellees.

ABRAMSON and HOOFMAN, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 263

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge.

Appellant Abram Heflin appeals from the termination of his parental rights to his four-year-old son, A.H.[1] Mr. Heflin's counsel has filed a no-merit brief and motion to withdraw, stating that this appeal is without merit and that she should be relieved as counsel. We affirm and grant counsel's motion to withdraw.

Pursuant to Linker-Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), appellant's counsel has ordered the relevant portions of the record, Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(c), and concluded that after a review of the record there are no issues of arguable merit for appeal, Rule 6-9(i). Mr. Heflin was provided with a copy of his counsel's brief and motion and informed of his right to file pro se points, which he did.

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 March 6, 2013, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody of both A.H. and his younger brother, who had been living with their mother. In an attached affidavit of a family service worker, it was stated that A.H. had recently received medical treatment for two cigarette burns to his left thumb. Upon investigation, A.H.'s mother admitted that she had used methamphetamine on the same day she was interviewed, and she tested positive for methamphetamine, THC, and benzos. The mother could not explain the burns on her son, and she told investigators that she had been contemplating suicide.

Page 264

The emergency petition noted that A.H.'s father, Abram Heflin, was incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction. On March 11, 2013, the trial court entered an order for emergency DHS custody.

The trial court entered a probable-cause order on March 12, 2013, and an order adjudicating the children dependent-neglected on April 4, 2013. Mr. Heflin remained incarcerated and did not appear at either the probable-cause hearing or the adjudication hearing. Mr. Heflin ...


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