FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, ELEVENTH DIVISION
[NOS. 60JV-13-2041, 60JV-15-691] HONORABLE PATRICIA ANN
Bowers Lee, 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 children.
D. VAUGHT, Judge
Beisner is appealing the Pulaski County Circuit Court's
order terminating her parental rights to her two minor
children, R.B.1 and R.B.2. Beisner's only argument on
appealis that the circuit court erred
when it proceeded with the termination hearing "despite
the absence of a critical witness, " William Mitchell,
who was then believed to be the father of one of the children
and who had made allegations against Beisner. We affirm.
case began on December 16, 2013, when a drug raid at
Beisner's home resulted in her arrest. The Arkansas
Department of Human Services (DHS) exercised an emergency
hold on R.B.1, who was then sixteen months old. Beisner was
four months pregnant at the time. She admitted having smoked
marijuana but claimed that the drugs found in her home during
the raid were left there by a friend. R.B.1 was adjudicated
dependent-neglected based on a stipulation by the parties. In
the court's June 4, 2014 review order, it was noted that
Beisner was in compliance and was making good progress.
gave birth to R.B.2 on May 21, 2014. Based on DHS's
recommendation, the court allowed R.B.2 to stay in
Beisner's care and granted Beisner unsupervised day
visits with R.B.1. Following several months of successful
unsupervised visitation, Beisner was granted weekend
visitation. Beisner then moved for a trial placement of R.B.1
back into her home, which was granted on November 17, 2014.
December 2014, the circuit court entered a
permanency-planning order that stated reunification with
Beisner should be achieved within three months based on
Beisner's compliance and progress. Beisner then filed a
motion for temporary custody of R.B.1. Although DHS
originally objected to the motion for temporary custody, it
withdrew its objection, and the circuit court granted Beisner
temporary custody of R.B.1 on April 8, 2015. The court
ordered Beisner not to have the children around any unrelated
males or the maternal grandmother.
18, 2015, DHS filed a petition for dependency-neglect on
R.B.2 and a motion for ex parte emergency change of custody
of R.B.1. It had come to the attention of DHS that Beisner
had posted photos of herself and the children with an
unrelated male on Facebook, later determined to be William
Mitchell. Following an emergency staffing to address the fact
that Beisner had violated the court's order by having her
children around Mitchell, Mitchell came to DHS and
voluntarily reported that Beisner had engaged in numerous
other violations during the trial placement, including
prostitution, drug use, taking the children out of state,
leaving them with her mother (with whom they were supposed to
have no contact), quitting her job, and having them around
unrelated males. The court granted the motions, and both
children were returned to DHS custody.
August 24, 2015, DHS filed a motion to terminate parental
rights as to both children. At the termination hearing, when
it was discovered that Mitchell (who was named R.B.2's
putative father) would not be present at the hearing because
he was in another division of circuit court for an
arraignment, the court announced that it intended to go
forward with the termination hearing. Beisner's attorney
stated that she had planned on questioning Mitchell as a
witness but admitted that she had not subpoenaed him. The
court stated that it was going forward with the termination
hearing "unless somebody gives me some compelling reason
otherwise." Beisner's attorney made no objection to
the hearing proceeding in Mitchell's absence. After the
close of all the evidence, the court terminated Beisner's
parental rights. Beisner filed a timely notice of appeal.
Knuckles v. Arkansas Department of Human Services,
we explained that we review termination-of-parental-rights
cases de novo. 2015 Ark.App. 463, at 2–3, 469 S.W.3d
377, 378–79 (citing Dinkins v. Ark. Dep't of
Human Servs., 344 Ark. 207, 40 S.W.3d 286 (2001)).
However, we reverse a trial court's decision to terminate
parental rights only when it is clearly erroneous. Ullom
v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 340 Ark. 615, 12
S.W.3d 204 (2000); Mitchell v. Ark. Dep't of Human
Servs., 2013 Ark.App. 715, 430 S.W.3d 851; Brewer v.
Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 71 Ark.App. 364, 43
S.W.3d 196 (2001). A finding is clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court
on the entire evidence is left with a distinct and firm
conviction that a mistake was made. Wade v. Ark.
Dep't of Human Servs., 337 Ark. 353, 990 S.W.2d 509
(1999); Hopkins v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs.,
79 Ark.App. 1, 83 S.W.3d 418 (2002).
sole argument on appeal is that the circuit court violated
her due-process rights by proceeding with the hearing in
Mitchell's absence. This issue was not preserved for
appeal because Beisner's attorney failed to make a
contemporaneous objection before the circuit court. Ingle
v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2014 Ark. 471, at
7–8, 449 S.W.3d 283, 288. This court has long held that
an appellant must raise an argument and obtain a ruling on
even constitutional issues in the trial court in order to
preserve the issue for appeal. See Raymond v. State,
354 Ark. 157, 162–63, 118 S.W.3d 567, 571 (2003).
Issues raised for the first time on appeal will not be
considered because the circuit court never had an opportunity
to make a ruling. Johnson v. State, 2009 Ark. 460
(per curiam) (citing Green v. State, 362 Ark. 459,
209 S.W.3d 339 (2005)).