FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, CHICKASAWBA
DISTRICT [NO. 47JV-15-21] HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR., JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE.
Mississippi County Circuit Court terminated the parental
rights of Tiffany Wingate to her daughter, B.M. Wingate's
counsel has filed a no-merit brief pursuant to
Linker-Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human
Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), and Ark.
Sup. Ct. R. 6-9(i) (2017), asserting that there are no
meritorious issues that could arguably support an appeal and
seeking permission to withdraw as counsel. The clerk of this
court sent a copy of counsel's brief and motion to
withdraw to Wingate, advising her of her right to file pro se
points for reversal pursuant to Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 6-9(i)(3),
but she has not done so. We grant counsel's motion to
withdraw and affirm the order terminating Wingate's
March 2015, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)
petitioned for emergency custody of three-day-old B.M. The
accompanying affidavit explained that both Wingate and B.M.
tested positive for amphetamines when B.M. was born and that
Wingate admitted using methamphetamine while she was
pregnant. The circuit court issued an order for emergency
custody and later found probable cause to continue custody
April 2015, the court adjudicated B.M. dependent-neglected
and set the goal of the case as reunification. The
adjudication order noted that Wingate had completed a
drug-and-alcohol assessment, submitted to random drug
screens, completed parenting classes, and watched "The
Clock is Ticking" video. Wingate was ordered to complete
outpatient treatment and to resolve her criminal charges.
court reviewed the case in July 2015 and found that Wingate
had partially complied with the case plan and court orders.
It recited Wingate's compliance as noted above but found
that three out of five drug screens had been positive for
amphetamines, methamphetamine, and THC. It also found that
Wingate had not obtained stable housing or maintained stable
employment or income. In addition, Wingate had not complied
with the recommendation of outpatient substance-abuse
treatment. She was ordered to complete a second
drug-and-alcohol assessment and follow the recommendations,
obtain stable housing and employment, and submit to random
drug screens. Another review in October 2015 revealed that
Wingate had once again not followed the recommendation from
her drug-and-alcohol assessment and had not obtained stable
housing or employment. The order also noted three positive
drug screens in September 2015.
February 2016, the court entered a permanency-planning order
changing the goal of the case to either a permanent custodian
or termination of parental rights and adoption. The court
found that Wingate had not maintained stable housing or
employment, had not complied with the recommended drug
treatment, and had two positive drug tests in November and
December 2015. The order noted that Wingate had begun an
inpatient drug rehabilitation but left after one day. A June
2016 review order noted continued noncompliance as described
above and that Wingate had again entered a rehabilitation
program but left after a few days. In August 2016, DHS
petitioned to terminate Wingate's parental rights
alleging several grounds: twelve month/failure to remedy,
failure to provide significant material support or maintain
meaningful contact, subsequent factors/incapacity or
indifference to remedy, and aggravated circumstances.
See Ark Code Ann. §
(vii)(a), & (ix)(a) (Repl. 2015).
termination hearing in December 2016, Wingate testified that
she was currently housed in the county jail but expected to
be released by December 30. She explained that she had been
jailed after police had found a glass pipe used to smoke
methamphetamine and a needle used to inject methamphetamine
in the car with her and her "old man." She
testified that she had attended a drug-and-alcohol
assessment, which recommended twelve weeks of treatment, but
that she had undergone "probably like five" weeks
of treatment. She admitted that she had tested positive for
methamphetamine since April 2015 but insisted that she was
"a hundred percent" clean now. She conceded that
she did not have a stable home and was not employed. She
admitted that she had been a "messed up mama" and
asked that DHS "give [her] another chance."
Watson, the DHS caseworker, testified that Wingate had
complied with some requirements of the case plan and that she
had attended three drug-and-alcohol assessments. Watson
explained that Wingate had not followed the recommendations
from those assessments and had not been able to obtain
sobriety on a steady basis. He also stated that Wingate had
not visited B.M. since September 2015. He agreed that there
were no additional services that DHS could offer that would
likely result in reunification. As to B.M., Watson testified
that she had been in the same foster home since her initial
placement and that she was doing well. He said that B.M. is
adoptable and agreed that it would be harmful to place B.M.
in Wingate's custody.
DHS rested, Wingate moved for a directed verdict, asserting
that DHS had not proved that termination was in B.M.'s
best interest and that DHS had not proved the statutory
grounds for termination. The court granted the motion as to
failure to provide significant material support but otherwise
denied the motion.
was recalled to the stand and again asked the court to give
her another chance. She admitted she had "failed in the
beginning" because of her drug use but said that she had
been clean for four months. Wingate then renewed her motion
to dismiss, which was denied.
the bench, the circuit court granted the petition to
terminate Wingate's parental rights. The court entered a
written order in February 2017 terminating Wingate's
parental rights on statutory grounds of twelve month/failure
to remedy, subsequent factors/incapacity or indifference to
remedy, and aggravated circumstances. The court also ...