Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Anderson v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

September 21, 2016

HARVEY ANDERSON, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILD, APPELLEES

         APPEAL FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT [NO. 16JV-14-29] HONORABLE MELISSA BRISTOW RICHARDSON, JUDGE

          Tina Bowers Lee, Ark. Pub. Defender Comm'n, for appellant.

          Jerald A. Sharum, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.

Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor child.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE

         Appellant Harvey Anderson appeals from the termination of his parental rights to his son, M.A., who was born on January 16, 2014.[1] On appeal, Mr. Anderson argues that because he has a disability within the purview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the case plan should have been modified to accommodate his disability pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(b) (Repl. 2015). Mr. Anderson contends that appellee Arkansas Department of Human Services' (DHS's) failure to make such modifications resulted in premature termination of his parental rights, and that the order terminating his parental rights should be reversed. We affirm.

         We review termination of parental rights cases de novo. Mitchell v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2013 Ark.App. 715, 430 S.W.3d 851. At least one statutory ground must exist, in addition to finding that it is in the child's best interest to terminate parental rights; these must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341 (Repl. 2015); M.T. v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 58 Ark.App. 302, 952 S.W.2d 177 (1997). Clear and convincing evidence is that degree of proof that will produce in the fact-finder a firm conviction as to the allegation sought to be established. Anderson v. Douglas, 310 Ark. 633, 839 S.W.2d 196 (1992). We will affirm a trial court's finding that a disputed fact was proved by clear and convincing evidence unless that finding is clearly erroneous. J.T. v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 329 Ark. 243, 947 S.W.2d 761 (1997). A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. Yarborough v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 96 Ark.App. 247, 240 S.W.3d 626 (2006).

         This case began on October 27, 2014, when DHS filed a motion for emergency custody of M.A. Attached to the petition was an affidavit stating that Marsha Davis had stabbed Mr. Anderson in the face with a screwdriver, resulting in Ms. Davis's arrest for felony domestic battery.[2] The attack occurred in the couple's home in the presence of the child. Upon inspection of the home, the family-service worker found a plastic baggie containing cocaine residue and a crack pipe. Mr. Anderson smelled of alcohol and had very slurred speech. Based on the information in the affidavit, the trial court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody on the same day DHS's petition was filed.

         On December 12, 2014, the trial court entered an adjudication order finding M.A. to be dependent-neglected based on parental unfitness as to both parents. The goal of the case was reunification. Among other things, Mr. Anderson was ordered to cooperate with DHS, remain drug free, submit to random drug screens, complete parenting classes, and maintain safe and stable housing. DHS was ordered to arrange appropriate visitation.

         In a review order entered on April 14, 2015, the trial court found that Mr. Anderson had complied with some of the case plan, but had not visited the child on a regular basis, had tested positive for cocaine, and had not maintained safe and stable housing. In the review order, the trial court directed Mr. Anderson to complete long-term inpatient drug rehabilitation, and ordered that Mr. Anderson be drug-free before being allowed additional visits with the juvenile.

         On October 22, 2015, the trial court entered a permanency-planning order changing the goal of the case to termination of parental rights and adoption. The trial court found that Mr. Anderson had failed to complete drug rehabilitation as ordered and had tested positive for cocaine on multiple occasions. In the permanency-planning order, the trial court appointed counsel to represent Mr. Anderson.

         DHS filed a petition to terminate Mr. Anderson's parental rights on November 17, 2015. After a hearing, the trial court entered an order terminating Mr. Anderson's parental rights on February 12, 2016.

         In the termination order, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mr. Anderson's parental rights was in M.A.'s best interest. The trial court also found clear and convincing evidence of three statutory grounds under Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B) (Repl. 2015). Pursuant to subsection (ii)(a), the trial court found that the juvenile had lived outside the home of the parent for twelve months and that the parent had willfully failed to maintain meaningful contact with the juvenile. The trial court also found, under subsection (iv), that Mr. Anderson had abandoned the juvenile. Finally, pursuant to subsection (vii)(a), the trial court found that other factors or issues arose subsequent to the filing of the original petition for dependency-neglect that demonstrated that placement of the juvenile in the custody of the parent was contrary to the juvenile's health, safety, or welfare and that, despite the offer of appropriate family services, the parent had manifested the incapacity or indifference to remedy the subsequent issues or factors or rehabilitate the parent's circumstances that prevent the placement of the juvenile in the custody of the parent.

         Ashley Middleton, a family-service worker assigned to this case, testified that although Mr. Anderson had entered a long-term drug-rehabilitation program, he left the program long before completion. Ms. Middleton further stated that Mr. Anderson had tested positive for cocaine on numerous occasions. Ms. Middleton testified that over the course of this case, Mr. Anderson had "hit and miss" visits with the child and had not visited the child at all since April 2015. The only time Mr. Anderson saw M.A. after April 2015 was when he met briefly with the child when they were both in attendance at the October 2015 permanency-planning hearing. Ms. Middleton indicated that, on her last visit to Mr. Anderson's home, the home was inappropriate for a child and that there were multiple people living there and numerous others coming and going. Ms. Middleton stated that M.A. could not be safely returned to Mr. Anderson and that M.A. was adoptable. She recommended termination of Mr. Anderson's parental rights based on the best interest of the child.

         Mr. Anderson testified that he has a learning disability and has difficultly reading and writing.[3] He stated that he receives social security disability benefits. Mr. Anderson stated that he requested an attorney from DHS, but was not provided one until the day of the permanency-planning hearing. Mr. Anderson admitted at ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.