FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. JV15-9]
HONORABLE STACEY ZIMMERMAN, 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.
W. GRUBER, Judge
Bushee appeals from certain adverse findings included in a
permanency-planning order entered by the Washington County
Circuit Court in this dependency-neglect case. In a jointly
filed brief, the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the
attorney ad litem contend that, because the
permanency-planning order is not a final and appealable order
and because the circuit court's Rule 54(b) certificate is
defective, this court has no jurisdiction to consider Ms.
Bushee's appeal. We agree, and we dismiss the appeal
case began when DHS took Ms. Bushee's son, D.B. (born
4/21/14), into protective custody on January 1, 2015, in
response to allegations of the mother's substance abuse
and parental neglect. The circuit court adjudicated D.B.
dependent-neglected on February 19, 2015, with the stated
goal as reunification with Ms. Bushee. The court ordered Ms.
Bushee to continue to submit to weekly drug-and-alcohol
screens; to participate in individual counseling; and to
maintain stable housing and employment. After the
adjudication hearing, DNA testing showed Gerrod Holmes to be
D.B.'s biological father. On June 10, 2015, the court
granted DHS's motion to deny Mr. Holmes visitation based
on Mr. Holmes's unresolved criminal charges and failure
to submit to drug screens.
review order entered on July 15, 2015, although the circuit
court found that Ms. Bushee had attended counseling, attended
AA meetings, attended visitation, maintained stable housing
and employment, and completed a psychological evaluation, the
court expressed concern that she continued to use illegal
drugs and had not maintained her sobriety. The court also
found that Mr. Holmes had not resolved his criminal fines and
had tested positive for illegal drugs in May. The court
continued Ms. Bushee's supervised visitation with D.B.,
authorized Mr. Holmes to have supervised visitation, and
ordered both parents to pay child support. Then, on July 20,
2015, pursuant to the ad litem's motion for an emergency
hearing, the court discontinued Ms. Bushee's visitation
and ordered her to enter and complete inpatient
November 4, 2015, the court held a permanency-planning
hearing in which it found that Ms. Bushee had not complied
with all of the court orders and case plan, specifically
noting that she had not adequately addressed the drug and
alcohol issues that caused DHS to take custody of D.B. and
had not paid child support. But the court continued her
twice-weekly supervised visitation. The court found that Mr.
Holmes was in compliance with the case plan and had paid his
child support; it continued his weekly one-hour supervised
visitation and added unsupervised visits every other Saturday
for four hours. The court continued the goal of reunification
and set a fifteen-month permanency-planning hearing for
January 29, 2016. At the conclusion of the hearing, Ms.
Bushee's counsel asked the court to enter a Rule 54(b)
certification. The court entered a permanency-planning order
with an attached 54(b) certificate on December 11, 2015. Ms.
Bushee filed this appeal.
Supreme Court Rule 6-9 provides that the following orders may
be appealed from dependency-neglect proceedings:
(A) adjudication order;
(B) disposition, review, no reunification, and permanency
planning order if the court directs entry of a final judgment
as to one or more of the issues or parties based upon the
express determination by the court supported by factual
findings that there is no just reason for delay of an appeal,
in accordance with Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b);
(C) termination of parental rights;
(D) denial of right to appointed counsel pursuant to Ark.
Code Ann. § ...