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Ozuna v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

June 17, 2015

ALMA OZUNA, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, APPELLEE

Page 435

APPEAL FROM THE LOGAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT. NO. 42 B JV-13-15. HONORABLE TERRY SULLIVAN, JUDGE.

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

No response.

BART F. VIRDEN, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and HIXSON, J., agree.

OPINION

Page 436

BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

Alma Ozuna appeals from a Logan County Circuit Court order that terminated her parental rights to her four children.[1] Pursuant to Linker--Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), and Rule 6-9(i) of the Rules of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, Ozuna's attorney has filed a no-merit brief asserting that there are no issues that would support a meritorious appeal and a motion requesting to be relieved as counsel. The clerk of this court provided Ozuna with a copy of her counsel's motion and brief and notified Ozuna of her right to file pro se points of appeal, which Ozuna has not done. We grant counsel's motion to withdraw and affirm the termination of Ozuna's parental rights.

I. Background

This case began as a FINS case on June 4, 2013, due to the family's homelessness, and due to educational and medical neglect. At that time, the children, B.R., D.R., Y.R., and J.R. (aged fourteen, thirteen, eleven, and nine, respectively) were removed from the custody of their mother and placed in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (the Department). The circuit court granted the Department's ex parte request for emergency custody on June 7, 2013. In a probable-cause order filed June 25, 2013, the circuit court found that it was in the best interests of the children to remain in the custody of the Department and ordered Ozuna to participate in parenting classes, counseling, family therapy and to complete a psychological evaluation. The circuit court also ordered that Ozuna maintain a stable home environment and employment. The circuit court ordered the Department to keep the children in the Fort Smith area so they could continue in the same counseling program and to set up visitation with Ozuna. On December 3, 2013, the circuit court entered an order adjudicating the children dependent-neglected, and found that returning the children to the parents would be contrary to the welfare

Page 437

of the children at that time. The circuit court set the goal as reunification and ordered supervised visitation. It set a review hearing for January 7, 2014.

In the review order, filed the same day as the hearing, the circuit court found that Ozuna had not complied with the case plan and that returning custody to Ozuna was contrary to the welfare of the children. The circuit court ordered Ozuna to submit to random drug screens and a psychological evaluation. A permanency-planning hearing was set for June 3, 2014.

On June 27, 2014, the Department filed a petition calling for the termination of Ozuna's parental rights, and a hearing was held on August 19, 2014. Ozuna testified about the circumstances leading up to the hearing. She explained that she had just had double knee replacement and much prior to surgery she had a serious infection in her knees that required hospitalization. Ozuna testified she also suffers from lupus and fibromyalgia. She explained that her positive drug tests for marijuana, methamphetamine, and amphetamines were redone and came back negative. She testified that part of the reason she had not been able to visit her children was because of the false positive result from the drug test. She confirmed that she had been referred for counseling, psychological evaluation and parenting classes but had been unable to attend since late April due to her physical impairment and residence in the rehabilitation facility, Legacy Health (Legacy). She said she had recently been going to ...


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