FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04PR-16-616]
HONORABLE XOLLIE DUNCAN, JUDGE
Niblock Law Firm, PLC, by: Raymond L. Niblock, for appellant.
& Spence, by: George R. Spence, for appellee Seth
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE
Andrew Marshall appeals the Benton County Circuit Court order
granting the adoption petition of Seth Robert Rubright. On
appeal, James argues that the circuit court erred by (1)
failing to make specific credibility findings and (2) finding
that he failed significantly and without justifiable cause to
communicate with his son, B.M. We affirm.
married Valerie Rubright (formerly Woolsey) on August 30,
2010. They have one child, B.M. In July 2011, James and Valerie
separated, and on April 18, 2012, the Benton County Circuit
Court entered their divorce decree. The decree granted
Valerie primary custody of B.M., subject to James having
visitation. It further provided that James pay Valerie child
support in the amount of $66 a week. On November 18, 2013,
Valerie married Seth.
December 10, 2013, the Benton County Circuit Court entered a
one-year order of protection of B.M. and Valerie against
James. The order resulted from an incident wherein James
threatened to break B.M.'s neck and then sent Valerie
weblinks to stories about fathers who killed their children
and the children's mothers during disputes over child
custody and child support. On June 30, 2014, James pled
guilty to first-degree terroristic threatening associated
with the incident. The court sentenced him to three
years' probation and thirteen days in the county jail.
9, 2014, the circuit court entered an order finding James in
contempt for failing to pay child support to Valerie. On
October 8, 2014, the circuit court entered a
compliance-review order, finding that James had resumed
paying child support.
December 2, 2014, the circuit court entered a second order of
protection of B.M. and Valerie against James lasting through
February 24, 2015. On February 15, 2015, the circuit court
extended the order for five years.
2, 2015, the State of Arkansas filed a petition to revoke
James's probation. It alleged that James had violated the
order of protection, violated a no-contact order with
Valerie, and failed to report to his probation officer.
April 2, 2016, the State amended the petition to allege that
James committed two counts of first-degree terroristic
threatening and one count of harassing communication on
November 18, 2014, after James had posted a series of
threatening messages to Valerie and B.M. on his Facebook
page. The messages included the statement that James hoped
someone would put a bullet in Valerie's neck and a meat
cleaver in B.M.'s head. He also posted the comment:
"You [expletive] sue me again and it will be the worst
[expletive] mistake you'll regret. I promise you
that." Around that time, James also posted on Facebook
that his location was Siloam Springs, where Valerie lived. On
May 5, 2016, the circuit court revoked James's probation
and sentenced him to six years' imprisonment.
16, 2016, James pled guilty to two counts of first-degree
terroristic threatening, one count of violating an order of
protection, and one count of harassing communications. He
received six years' imprisonment to run concurrently with
his revocation sentence.
26, 2016, Valerie's husband, Seth, filed a petition for
adoption of B.M. In the petition, Seth alleged that because
James had not had contact with B.M. since October 2012, his
consent to the adoption was not required pursuant to Arkansas
Code Annotated section 9-9-207 (Repl. 2015). James objected
to the petition.
court held a hearing on October 19, 2016. At the hearing, the
court granted Seth's oral motion to amend his petition to
additionally allege that James's consent to the adoption
was not required because James had failed to pay child
support for one year. At the conclusion of the hearing, the
court orally granted the petition. The court noted that the
test "stated by the attorneys [is] whether [James]
failed substantially, and without justifiable cause, to