FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. JV2015-279-3]
HONORABLE THOMAS E. SMITH, JUDGE
Lanford, Ark. Pub. Defender Comm'n, for appellant.
Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee. Chrestman Group,
PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
Brown appeals from the Benton County Circuit Court order
terminating his parental rights to his four children, C.B.,
C.B.2., B.B., and R.B. On appeal, Brown
argues that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to
continue the termination hearing. We affirm.
12, 2015, the Arkansas Department of Human Services
("DHS") exercised an emergency hold over C.B.,
C.B.2., B.B., and R.B. after Brown had left the children with
a friend and did not return for them. Brown's mother had
evicted him and the children because Brown, who was addicted
to methamphetamine, had severely damaged her house.
court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody and
subsequently found probable cause to maintain the children in
16, 2015, the court adjudicated the children
dependent-neglected. In the order, the court noted that DHS
had been involved with the family since 2005 and had offered
them housing referrals, food-pantry referrals, and assistance
with reapplying for food stamps. The court ordered Brown to
comply with the case plan, submit to random drug screens,
attend and complete parenting classes, obtain and maintain
stable housing and employment, and submit to a
drug-and-alcohol assessment and complete all of its
September 8, 2015, the court entered a review order but made
no findings on Brown's compliance. The court ordered that
Brown appear at DHS every Thursday.
October 2, 2015, DHS filed a motion to terminate
reunification services. Following a hearing on the motion,
the court entered an order terminating reunification services
on November 10, 2015. The court found little likelihood that
services to the family would result in successful
reunification. The court noted that Brown had attended only
one visit with the children, had not completed a
drug-and-alcohol assessment, had not attended individual
counseling or parenting classes, had not submitted to random
drug screens, and had not maintained stable housing or
employment. Further, as to the order to appear at the DHS
office on Thursdays, the court noted that Brown had appeared
on September 10, September 17, and September 24 but that he
had failed to appear on October 1.
December 1, 2015, the court entered a permanency-planning
order changing the goal of the case from reunification to
adoption. On December 21, 2015, DHS filed a petition for
termination of Brown's parental rights.
February 2, 2016, the court held a termination hearing. At
the onset of the hearing, Brown asked the court to continue
the case for six weeks. He informed the court that he was
scheduled to begin an inpatient drug-treatment program at
Decision Point the following day. He explained that he had
tried to enter the program earlier but that the facility did
not have availability until February 3. The court then asked
Brown when he had last used drugs, and he responded
"four weeks." The court also asked him whether he
had passed the drug test scheduled for that day, and he
responded, "I am waiting on going to the bathroom."
The court then denied Brown's request for a continuance.
court proceeded with the termination hearing, and at the
conclusion of the hearing, the court orally terminated
Brown's parental rights. The court entered a written
order on March 15, 2016. Brown timely appealed the order to
this court. The sole issue on appeal is whether the court
abused its discretion in denying Brown's motion for
continuance. Brown asserts that the court should have granted
his request because he had plans to enter the drug-treatment
program the day following the termination hearing.
motion for continuance should be granted only upon a showing
of good cause. Butler v. Ark. Dep't of Human
Servs., 2010 Ark.App. 570. We will not reverse a denial
of a motion for continuance absent an abuse of discretion
amounting to denial of justice. Smith v. Ark. Dep't
of Human Servs., 93 Ark.App. 395, 401, 219 S.W.3d 705,
708 (2005). ...