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.

Earls v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

February 1, 2017

JACOB EARLS APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILDREN APPELLEES

         APPEAL FROM THE GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 28JV-2014-099] HONORABLE BARBARA HALSEY, JUDGE

         AFFIRMED

          Leah Lanford, Ark. Pub. Defender Comm'n, for appellant.

          Andrew Firth, County Legal Operations, for appellee. Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor children.

          BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

         Jacob Earls appeals the order of the Greene County Circuit Court terminating his parental rights. Earls asserts that the circuit court erred in finding that there was sufficient evidence to support statutory grounds for termination. Based on our review, we are not left with a definite and firm conviction that the circuit court's statutory-grounds findings were in error, and we affirm.

         I. Facts

         On July 27, 2014, twins S.M. and D.M. (b. 7/16/2014) were removed from their mother's custody due to the presence of methamphetamine in their systems. A hearing was held on July 31, 2014, and in the subsequent order the circuit court found that probable cause existed to remove the children from the custody of their mother, Charity Sessums. The circuit court noted that Earls was a putative father, that his whereabouts were unknown, that he had not been served, and that he was not present for the hearing. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (Department) was ordered to develop a case plan and make diligent efforts to discover Earls's location, and Earls was ordered to establish paternity.

         On August 19, 2014, the circuit court adjudicated the children dependent-neglected. Earls did not appear at the hearing. In the written order, the circuit court found that the process server had attempted to serve Earls, but was unable to because his attempts were "actively avoided by the parent(s). The court finds that the Department has made thorough and diligent efforts to locate the mother and putative fathers." The Department was ordered to provide standard welfare services and develop an appropriate case plan. The parents were ordered to comply with the case plan, with the court's orders, and with any reasonable Department requests. A review hearing was set for January 15, 2015.

         An amended petition for dependency-neglect was filed January 12, 2015. Earls's address was listed in the amended petition and "abandonment" was added to the grounds supporting the Department's assertion of dependency-neglect. A second amended petition was filed on January 13, 2015, and it set forth that the Department had concerns about service of process and was seeking a new adjudication on the parents. The Department reiterated that abandonment was among the causes of the dependency/neglect. On the same date, the Department filed a motion on Earls's behalf, requesting that the circuit court order a DNA test to establish Earls's paternity. The circuit court granted the motion on January 15, 2015.

         On March 31, 2015, Earls filed a pro se answer to the second amended petition for dependency neglect. In it, he listed several relatives he felt would be placement options for the children. On April 23, 2015, the circuit court entered an adjudication-and-review order finding that the children were dependent-neglected due to the presence of controlled substances in their systems at birth. The circuit court found that Earls was incarcerated and had been served on January 27, 2015, via service on the warden. The circuit court found that the Department had made reasonable efforts to provide services. The parents were ordered to cooperate and maintain contact with the Department, obey all orders of the court, watch "The Clock is Ticking, " complete parenting classes, and submit to drug screening. The putative fathers were ordered to establish paternity.

         On May 1, 2015, the DNA test results were filed with the court, and they showed that Earls's probability of paternity was 99.99%.

         On August 28, 2015, the circuit court entered a permanency-planning order. In it the circuit court found that Earls had not established significant contacts with the children and his parental rights had not attached. The circuit court found that Earls was incarcerated and that his projected release date was September 7, 2015. Earls did not appeal the permanency planning order.

         On January 8, 2016, the Department filed a petition for termination. In its petition it cited two statutory grounds regarding Earls: (1) Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(b)(Repl. 2015)-that the children had lived out of the home of the noncustodial parent for twelve months, and despite meaningful efforts by the Department to rehabilitate Earls and correct the conditions that prevented placement with Earls, the conditions had not been remedied by him; and (2) Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ii)(a)-that the children had lived ...


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.