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Adams v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

March 2, 2016

CAROLINE ADAMS, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND E.F., A MINOR, APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. J-13-749. HONORABLE STACEY ZIMMERMAN, JUDGE.

         For APPELLANT: LEAH BETH LANFORD.

         For APPELLEE: KEITH L CHRESTMAN; JERALD A SHARUM; MISCHA KAY MARTIN.

         RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge. HARRISON and GLOVER, JJ., agree.

          OPINION

Page 276

          RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge

         Caroline Adams appeals from the March 6, 2015 order of the Washington County Circuit Court terminating her parental rights to her two-year-old daughter, E.F.[1] This case reaches us for the second time on appeal after we ordered rebriefing, specifically directing Adams's counsel to address whether the Indian Child Welfare Act (the " ICWA" ) was applicable to the proceedings below.

         Adams's counsel argues that the ICWA did not govern and, therefore, the higher standard that would apply for termination of parental rights to an Indian child was not applicable. Adams's counsel has refiled a no-merit brief 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), asserting that there are no issues of arguable merit to support the appeal and requesting to be relieved as counsel. The motion is accompanied by an abstract and addendum of the lower court's proceedings and a brief which explained why none of the trial court's rulings present a meritorious ground for appeal.

         In accordance with Ark. S.Ct. R. 6-9(i)(1)(A), counsel for Adams has reviewed the record for all rulings adverse to her made by the court on all objections, motions, and requests, and there were none. The clerk of this court notified Adams that she had the right to file pro se points for reversal under Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i)(3). Adams has filed pro se

Page 277

points. For the following reasons, we grant the motion to withdraw and affirm.

         On December 26, 2013, the Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect after Caroline Adams was arrested and charged with third-degree domestic battery by Fayetteville police on December 20, 2013.[2] The trial court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody on December 26, 2013, which placed E.F. in the custody of DHS. On January 3, 2014, the court found probable cause and set the adjudication hearing for Friday, January 31, 2014.[3] In an order entered on February 5, 2014, the court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that E.F. was dependent-neglected and was at substantial risk of serious harm as a result of neglect by Adams.

         The court specifically found that Adams was under the influence of methamphetamine, that she had admitted to ingesting large amounts of methamphetamine, and that she had been arrested for domestic battery against her mother. Adams had been taken to Washington Regional Medical Center for medical treatment and hospitalized for several days due to ingestion of methamphetamine. There was no legal caretaker for E.F. because the putative father had not yet established paternity and was living in Maryland. At the time of the hearing, Adams was incarcerated on charges of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine.

         On June 18, 2014, a review hearing was held, and the court found that the goal of the case was reunification with a concurrent goal of adoption. Adams continued to remain incarcerated. She had not maintained contact with DHS, had not submitted to weekly drug screens or a drug-and-alcohol assessment, and had not attended parenting classes offered. Adams, however, stated ...


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