FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EIGHTH DIVISION [NO.
60JV-15-1692] HONORABLE WILEY A. BRANTON, JR., JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant
Abraham. Brett D. Watson, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brett D.
Watson, for appellant Karri Smith.
WAYMOND M. BROWN, JUDGE.
Maceo Abraham and Karri Smith appeal separately from the
termination of their parental rights to their son, M.A., born
12/03/15. Appellants' respective attorneys have each
filed a no-merit brief and motion to withdraw as counsel
pursuant to Linker-Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human
Services,  and Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i),
asserting that there are no issues of arguable merit to
support the appeal. Counsel's briefs contain an abstract
and addendum of the proceedings below, detail all adverse
rulings made at the termination hearing, and explain why
there is no meritorious ground for reversal. The clerk of
this court sent copies of the briefs and motions to withdraw
to appellants, informing them of their right to file pro se
points for reversal. Smith has filed a statement of points.
We affirm the termination and grant counsels' motions to
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) took a
seventy-two-hour hold on M.A. on December 8, 2015, due to the
threat of immediate danger to the health or physical
well-being of the child. The court issued an ex parte order
for emergency custody on December 11, 2015. In that order,
the court noted that DHS had an active foster-care case
involving appellants and their daughter in which it was found
that appellants had subjected the child to "extreme and
repeated cruelty that could endanger the life of the
[child]." In the probable-cause order filed on January
4, 2016, the court found the existence of probable cause for
M.A. to remain in DHS's custody, but granted Smith
supervised visitation. M.A. was adjudicated
dependent-neglected due to parental unfitness in an order
filed on March 18, 2016. In that same order, the court noted
that appellants' parental rights to their daughter had
been involuntarily terminated. The court filed a
permanency-planning order on July 5, 2016, setting the goal
as reunification with Smith. However, in the
permanency-planning order of October 27, 2016, the court
changed the goal to adoption.
filed a petition to terminate appellants' parental rights
on November 23, 2016, alleging several grounds for
termination. The termination hearing took place on
January 3, 2017. The court filed an order terminating
appellants' parental rights on February 6, 2017. The
court found that the termination of appellants' parental
rights was in M.A.'s best interest. It specifically found
that M.A. was adoptable and that potential harm would result
if he were returned to appellants. The court terminated
appellants' parental rights on all grounds pled by DHS
except for failure to provide significant material support or
to maintain meaningful contact and abandonment. Both parties
timely filed notices of appeal.
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de
novo. At least one statutory ground must exist,
in addition to a finding that it is in the child's best
interest to terminate parental rights; these must be proved
by clear and convincing evidence. 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. The appellate inquiry is whether the trial
court's finding that the disputed fact was proved by
clear and convincing evidence is clearly
no-merit briefs submitted to this court, appellants'
attorneys correctly assert that there can be no meritorious
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the
terminations. The court took judicial notice of the previous
involuntary termination of appellants' parental rights to
their daughter, without objection. Although the court found
multiple statutory grounds supporting termination, only one
ground is necessary. The trial court found by clear and
convincing evidence that DHS proved that appellants had their
parental rights to another child involuntarily terminated.
Thus, the trial court's decision to terminate
appellants' parental rights on this ground was not
pro se points raise no issues of arguable merit; they involve
sufficiency issues that are adequately covered in her
attorney's brief or issues that are not preserved for
appeal. From our review of the record and briefs presented to
us, we conclude that appellants' counsel have complied
with the requirements set by the Arkansas Supreme Court, and
we hold that the appeal is wholly without merit. Accordingly,
we grant counsel's motions to withdraw and affirm the
order terminating appellants' parental rights.
motions to withdraw granted.
Gruber, C.J., and ...