FROM THE LOGAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT [NO.
42PJV-15-14] HONORABLE TERRY SULLIVAN, JUDGE
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
MARK KLAPPENBACH, Judge
Etzkorn appeals from the Logan County Circuit Court's
order terminating his parental rights to his two children,
T.E. and A.E. Appellant's attorney has filed a
motion to be relieved as counsel and a no-merit brief
pursuant to Linker-Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human
Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), and
Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i), asserting that there are
no issues of arguable merit to support the appeal. The clerk
of this court sent a copy of the brief and motion to be
relieved to appellant's last-known address, informing him
that he had the right to file pro se points for reversal
under Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i)(3), but appellant
did not respond.
review cases involving the termination of parental rights de
novo. Jessup v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2011
Ark.App. 463, 385 S.W.3d 304. The grounds for termination
must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Id.
When the burden of proving a disputed fact is by clear and
convincing evidence, the question on appeal is whether the
circuit court's finding that the disputed fact was proved
by clear and convincing evidence is clearly erroneous, giving
due regard to the opportunity of the circuit court to judge
the credibility of the witnesses. Id.
children were taken into custody in May 2015 due to parental
unfitness and environmental neglect after police had been
called to their home by appellant's girlfriend during a
domestic-violence incident. Appellant was arrested on several
charges, and the home was found to be cluttered with trash,
old food, and animal feces. The children had been the subject
of two prior protective-services cases. At the adjudication
hearing, the court found that appellant had physically abused
his girlfriend and that he had recently been placed on five
years' suspended imposition of sentence after pleading
guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to
deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. At a review
hearing six months after the case had begun, the court found
that appellant had failed to attend counseling, parenting
classes, or a psychological evaluation. Appellant also
exhibited disruptive behavior in court and during his
visitation with the children. The trial court ultimately
changed the goal of the case to adoption upon finding that
appellant had not made significant, measurable progress
toward achieving the goal of reunification.
evidence at the August 2016 termination hearing established
that appellant had visited the children only about four times
during the case, and the last visit was in late 2015.
Although appellant eventually submitted to a psychological
evaluation and began counseling, he did not complete a
drug-and-alcohol assessment or anger-management classes as
ordered by the court. Appellant denied having abused his
girlfriend and claimed that he did not have anger issues. He
tested positive for methamphetamine on the date of the
termination hearing. Recent photographs of appellant's
home admitted into evidence showed that the home continued to
be in poor condition despite appellant's testimony that
it was "pretty clean." The caseworker testified
that the children were likely to be adopted.
trial court found that the Department of Human Services had
proved four grounds for termination, including the
"failure to remedy" ground,  and that it was
in the children's best interest to terminate
appellant's parental rights, taking into consideration
the likelihood that the children would be adopted and the
potential harm that would be caused by returning custody of
the children to appellant. See Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3). The trial court found that appellant had
refused to engage in the counseling and treatment designed to
correct the problems that caused the removal of the children
and that the photographs of the home showed that it was in
almost as bad a condition as it was when the children were
removed. The court also noted appellant's positive drug
test, his failure to visit the children, and his
unwillingness to work on the caseplan. We agree with counsel
that there is no meritorious basis upon which to argue that
the trial court's decision to terminate appellant's
parental rights was clearly erroneous. As counsel notes, this
was the sole adverse ruling from the termination hearing.
our review of the record and the brief presented to us, we
conclude that counsel has complied with the requirements for
no-merit appeals and that the appeal is wholly without merit.
Accordingly, we affirm the termination order and grant
counsel's motion to withdraw.
motion to withdraw granted.
Abramson and Vaught, JJ., agree.