STEPHANY D. DAVIS AND DANIEL LEE BROWN APPELLANTS
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILDREN APPELLEES
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, ELEVENTH DIVISION [NO.
60JV-15-949] HONORABLE PATRICIA JAMES, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Comm'n, for
appellant Stephany Davis.
Lightle, Raney, Streit & Streit, LLP, by: Jonathan R.
Streit, for appellant Daniel Brown.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE
Davis and Daniel Brown appealed
separately from the termination of their parental rights to
two minor children, A.B. (DOB 8-24-2011) and D.B. (DOB
5-12-2015). Stephany has another child, D.A.B. (DOB
5-7-2008), who is in the custody of Stephany's mother and
is not part of this case. Stephany's and Daniel's
attorneys have filed no-merit briefs and motions to withdraw
pursuant to Linker-Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human
Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), and Rule
6-9 of the Rules of the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of
Appeals, setting forth the adverse rulings, explaining why
each ruling would not support a meritorious argument for
reversal, and concluding that an appeal in this case would be
wholly without merit. The clerk of our court sent copies of
the pertinent briefs and motions to withdraw to Stephany and
Daniel, informing them of their right to file pro se points
for reversal pursuant to Rule 6-9(i)(3) of the Rules of the
Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Neither one
filed points. We affirm the orders terminating the parental
rights of Stephany and Daniel, and we grant their
attorneys' motions to be relieved as counsel.
petition for ex parte emergency custody was filed on July 2,
2015. The supporting affidavit explained that the Arkansas
Department of Human Services (DHS) had earlier received a
report of inadequate supervision in May 2015 based on
Stephany's positive test results for opiates and morphine
and her child, D.B., being in the hospital because of severe
morphine withdrawal. The hospital also reported concerns
about the parents not visiting the child, which continued,
and when the parents did visit, they exhibited "sporadic
behavior, " raising concerns of drug use. When the
family-service worker tried to contact Stephany and Daniel at
Daniel's parents' house (where Stephany and Daniel
were living), the grandparents expressed concern of renewed
drug use. On June 30, 2015, DHS exercised a seventy-two-hour
hold on the two children. A.B. was placed in a foster home,
and D.B. remained in the hospital. The affidavit also noted a
history of unsubstantiated findings concerning this family.
8, 2015, the trial court entered its probable-cause order
based on the parties' stipulations and ordered services,
noting that DHS had not made reasonable efforts to prevent
removal of the children. On August 7, 2015, the paternal
grandparents filed a motion to intervene, asserting that
their son, Daniel, had never been married to Stephany, but
that he had acknowledged paternity through the Putative
Father Registry. They further stated A.B. had been under
their physical care since her birth and sought appointment as
guardians of both children. The trial court denied the motion
on August 27, 2015, explaining that all of the requested
relief could be accomplished without granting intervenor
adjudication order was entered on September 2, 2015, with the
parents stipulating to dependency-neglect based on parental
unfitness due to drug use and the trial court finding the
same. The trial court found that DHS had made reasonable
efforts and set reunification as the goal of the case.
October 21, 2015, the trial court entered an order relieving
the court-appointed counsel for Stephany, finding the parents
were "playing games" and not providing complete
financial information as ordered.
December 9, 2015, the trial court entered a review order,
finding the parents were not in compliance, setting
concurrent goals of reunification and adoption, suspending
Daniel's visitation, and finding that, "[b]ased on
the information in the psychological evaluation,
[Daniel's] parents are not considered for placement, nor
are his aunt and uncle." A contempt order against Daniel
was also entered on December 9, 2015, arising from events
that took place during the review hearing when Daniel
"was given a chance to settle down - he did not, but
escalated & became hostile & disruptive to the
Court." He was ordered to spend three days in jail.
1, 2016, the trial court entered a permanency-planning order.
The trial court found Stephany was "barely" in
compliance and Daniel was not in compliance. The goal of the
case was changed to termination and adoption.
19, 2016, DHS filed a petition for termination of parental
rights. In an August 1, 2016 status-report order, the trial
court noted DHS had not been able to obtain personal service
on the parents and "preliminarily appointed"
counsel for each parent. Following the termination hearing,
the trial court entered its termination order on October 21,
2016, and specifically noted Stephany and Daniel were present
at the hearing with counsel and no service issues were
raised. The order also found the Indian Child Welfare Act
(ICWA) did not apply because the father's application,
completed two days before the hearing, was not adequate; the
three alleged statutory grounds for termination had been
proved ((1) twelve months/failure to remedy, (2) subsequent
factors, and (3) aggravated circumstances); and it was in the
children's best interests to terminate, finding they were
adoptable and that continuing contact with either parent
"would result in harm to the children." The
parents' separate notices of appeal followed.
review cases terminating parental rights de novo. Ford v.
Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs., 2017 Ark.App. 211.
At least one statutory ground for termination must be proved
by clear and convincing evidence, and in addition, it must be
established that it is in the children's best interest to
terminate parental rights. Id. Clear and convincing
evidence is that degree of proof that will produce in the
fact-finder a firm conviction as to the allegation sought to
be established. Id. Our inquiry on appeal is whether
the trial court's finding that the disputed fact was
proved by clear and convincing evidence is clearly erroneous.
Id. A finding is clearly ...