FROM THE GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 28JV-15-94]
HONORABLE BARBARA HALSEY, JUDGE
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
Caruthers appeals the April 4, 2016 order terminating his
parental rights to E.C. He argues the lower court erred in
(1) denying his motion to dismiss and (2) finding termination
was in E.C.'s best interest. We affirm.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) exercised
emergency control over then three-month-old E.C. on May 18,
2015, upon notice that the child's parents had been
incarcerated in Missouri on shoplifting charges. A little
over a month later, E.C. was adjudicated dependent-neglected
for inadequate supervision, because he lacked an appropriate
caregiver. The case progressed through two review hearings.
Caruthers did not appear for either of the hearings. The
court found at both hearings that Caruthers was partially
compliant with the case plan, but he had never completed the
drug-and-alcohol assessment ordered. The court continued both
hearings with the goal of reunification.
filed its petition to terminate parental rights on April 4,
2016, alleging the grounds of failure to remedy, failure to
provide material support, subsequent factors, and aggravated
circumstances. The goal of the case was changed to adoption,
and the termination hearing was set for August 4, 2016.
Multiple motions to continue ensued, and each one was
accompanied by a written order of the court articulating good
cause as to why the hearing should be moved. The hearing was
eventually held on September 9, 2016, 157 days after the
filing of the petition.
hearing, Holly Johnson, the DHS caseworker, testified that
her main concern with Caruthers was his lack of stable
housing. She testified that, while Caruthers did have housing
throughout the case, he had moved all over town during that
time, DHS had sometimes been unable to find him, and DHS had
never been able to visit the home, despite multiple attempts.
She also expressed concerns that he had changed jobs multiple
times during the pendency of the case.
testified that, if the court allowed, he could take E.C. home
with him that day-he had diapers, wipes, baby food, formula,
and a crib-but he also acknowledged that he did not have
stable housing. He explained that he made more money at each
subsequent job he took.
admitted that he did not have his own place-he was living
with a friend in an apartment-and that he did "have some
trouble just kind of getting through life, maintaining a
stable place, stable job, and making contact with the
probation officers." He testified that he had been
incarcerated on two more occasions while the case was
court also heard testimony from an adoption specialist.
court terminated Caruthers's parental rights, finding
that doing so was in E.C.'s best interest. The court
noted that, while incarceration was the initial reason for
removal, after the removal the family was unable to establish