FROM THE CONWAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. JV2015-05],
HONORABLE TERRY SULLIVAN, JUDGE
Office of Kathryn L. Hudson, by: Kathryn L. Hudson, for
Firth, County Legal Operations, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge
Carl Jackson appeals the order of the Conway County Circuit
Court terminating his parental rights to his daughter, J.J.,
and his son, C.J. J.J. and C.J. are both Jackson's
children with a common mother, Ycenea Adams. On appeal,
Jackson argues that the circuit court erred in finding that
termination of his parental rights would be in the best
interest of the children; he also argues that the circuit
court failed to make the requisite finding of statutory
grounds. We find no error and affirm.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) removed J.J. from
Adams's custody in early September 2014, alleging that
Adams had subjected the child to abuse, threat of harm,
failure to protect, inadequate supervision, and environmental
neglect. At the time of J.J.'s removal, Adams was
pregnant with C.J. DHS filed a dependency-neglect petition
against both Adams and Jackson in the circuit court. At the
probable-cause hearing, the court found probable cause based
on Adams's stipulation, ordered DHS to conduct a home
study on Jackson, and also adjudicated Jackson to be the
father of J.J. The circuit court ordered Jackson to, among
other things, submit to random drug screens, attend and
complete parenting classes, submit to a psychological
evaluation and to a drug-and-alcohol assessment, and to
submit to and successfully complete inpatient/outpatient drug
treatment. The court also set the matter for an adjudication
hearing on November 20, 2014.
to the adjudication hearing, several things happened. Jackson
filed a petition for custody of J.J. Adams gave birth to
C.J., and she gave temporary custody of C.J. to Jackson
outside of DHS or court proceedings. At the adjudication
hearing, the court adjudicated J.J. dependent-neglected;
placed temporary custody of J.J. with Jackson; specifically
ordered Jackson to cooperate with DHS, including allowing
home visits and submitting to drug tests; and set the matter
for a review hearing on March 26, 2015. The court also
recognized Adams's placement of C.J. with Jackson.
the agreement between Jackson and Adams concerning C.J.,
Jackson had concerns about Adams's contact with the
child. On January 6, 2015, Jackson reported to DHS that he
felt the baby was in danger with Adams. DHS filed a petition
for ex parte emergency custody and dependency-neglect with
respect to C.J. The petition alleged that in the preceding
months, Adams had been homeless and had been inadequately
supervising the baby. The court subsequently adjudicated C.J.
dependent-neglected in March 2015 based on Adams's
stipulation and based on the prior finding that a sibling was
dependent-neglected. The court also adjudicated Jackson the
father of C.J. based on stipulation. The court reserved
disposition in the matter until the review hearing of March
26, 2015, previously scheduled in J.J.'s case.
review/disposition hearing, J.J. was removed from
Jackson's custody. Jackson was suspected of providing
fake clean urine samples during DHS drug tests, and he failed
a hair-follicle test that showed he was positive for cocaine
and THC. During his testimony, Jackson admitted he had not
been truthful about his drug use. Accordingly, the court
found Jackson's testimony to be lacking in credibility
and directed him to return J.J. to DHS's custody that
day. In addition, the court ordered Jackson to submit to and
complete a drug-and-alcohol assessment and follow all
recommendations, and it set J.J.'s case for a
permanency-planning hearing (PPH) in July. As to C.J., the
court continued custody with DHS and set the matter for
review in July, at the same time as the PPH for J.J.
PPH/review hearing, the court changed the goal for both
children to adoption. In doing so, the court specifically
noted that Jackson's drug-and-alcohol assessment revealed
a "high level of deception"; that Jackson had
refused to submit to random drug screens; and that, while he
had attended nearly all of his visitations, which went well,
he had failed to provide documentation that he had completed
parenting classes. The court authorized DHS to file a
petition for termination of Jackson's parental rights.
filed separate petitions to terminate Jackson's parental
rights. With respect to J.J., DHS alleged the
"twelve-months, failure to remedy" ground, Ark.
Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(a) (Repl.
2015); the "failure to provide significant material
support" ground, Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ii)(a); and the "subsequent
factors" ground, Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a). With respect to C.J., DHS
alleged both "subsequent factors" and that Jackson
had submitted the child to aggravated circumstances, in that
a determination had been made by a judge that there was
little likelihood that services to the family would result in
successful reunification. Ark. Code Ann. §
a hearing, the circuit court granted the petitions to
terminate Jackson's parental rights. Regarding J.J., the
circuit court found that DHS had proved the
"twelvemonths, failure to remedy" ground and the
"subsequent factors" ground. As to C.J., the court
found that DHS had proved the "subsequent factors"
and aggravated-circumstances grounds. In addition, the court
found as to both children that termination of Jackson's
parental rights was in their best interest, noting ...