FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TENTH DIVISION NO.
60JV-14-1534, HONORABLE TED CAPEHEART, SPECIAL JUDGE
Tabitha B. McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
A. Sharum, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge
Elizabeth James appeals the Pulaski County Circuit
Court's termination of her parental rights to her son,
A.H. Her sole argument on appeal is that the trial court
abused its discretion in denying her motion for a
continuance. We find no error and affirm.
was removed from appellant's custody on November 14,
2014, after he tested positive for methamphetamines,
amphetamines, and marijuana, and appellant tested positive
for PCP and marijuana. A.H. was adjudicated
dependent-neglected based upon written stipulations of
neglect and parental unfitness on January 8, 2015.
Appellant's termination hearing was set for October 8,
2015. A pretrial conference was held on September 10, 2015.
Following the conference, the court granted a continuance to
A.H.'s legal father, Gumesindo Hernandez, because he had
not been properly served. As such, Hernandez's
termination hearing was continued to October 28, 2015.
October 5, 2015, appellant filed a motion for a continuance.
The motion recited that appellant needed time "in order
to obtain outside counsel to protect her rights." It
also indicated that appellant "will have the ability to
retain counsel on Monday, October 5, 2015 after she is
paid." Appellant asserted that a continuance would not
prejudice DHS's case or delay permanency for A.H.,
because Hernandez's rights also had to be terminated.
motion for continuance was renewed at the beginning of the
termination hearing. The court denied the motion after
stating that appellant's attorney had indicated in
chambers that appellant had $750 to hire an attorney. The
court asserted that it did not believe "there's any
guarantee she'd get a lawyer if she had plenty of time to
get one." The court then went forward with the
proceedings. After hearing the evidence, the court entered an
order terminating appellant's parental rights. The court
found that A.H. was "highly" adoptable; that there
was potential harm in returning A.H. to appellant; and that
two grounds for termination existed. Appellant does not challenge
these findings on appeal. Her argument is limited to the
trial court's denial of a continuance.
motion for continuance should be granted only upon a showing
of good cause.We will not reverse a denial of a motion
for continuance absent an abuse of discretion amounting to
denial of justice. Lack of diligence by the moving party is a
sufficient reason to deny a motion for
continuance. Additionally, we will not reverse absent a
showing of prejudice from the denial of the motion for
the trial court granted Hernandez a continuance following the
pretrial hearing on September 10, 2015. Although appellant
was present, she did not seek a continuance at that time.
Instead, she waited three days before the scheduled hearing
to file a motion for continuance. In the motion, she
indicated that she would be able to retain counsel on October
5, 2015; however, when she appeared for the termination
hearing on October 8, she still had not retained outside
counsel and only had $750 with which to do so. Additionally,
appellant has failed to show how she was prejudiced by the
court's denial of her motion. Therefore, we find no abuse
of discretion and affirm the trial court.
Harrison and Whiteaker, JJ., agree.