FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04JV-15-567]
HONORABLE THOMAS SMITH, JUDGE
Standridge, for appellant.
Imbeau and Jerald A. Sharum, Office of Chief Counsel, for
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
an appeal from an order entered on May 11, 2017, by the
Benton County Circuit Court, terminating appellant Jasmine
Tatum's parental rights to her minor children. On appeal,
she argues that (1) the circuit court erred in changing the
goal of the case plan to adoption; (2) there was insufficient
evidence presented to establish that grounds supporting
termination of her parental rights existed; and (3)
terminating her parental rights was not in the best interests
of her children. We affirm.
September 16, 2015, Jasmine Tatum was arrested and
incarcerated by the Bentonville police for prostitution,
endangering the welfare of a minor, and obstruction of
governmental operations. Tatum had three children, who were,
at the time, ages eight, five, and two. Allegedly, Tatum had
posted an ad on Craigslist, invited a man to her hotel room
where she was living with her children, and spent some time
with him in the bathroom while the children sat on the bed
and watched television. Tatum then accepted $40 from the man
and he left.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) took an emergency
hold on the children. The case progressed through an
emergency-custody order, a probable-cause hearing, and an
adjudication hearing. At the adjudication hearing, the court
found that the children were at substantial risk of serious
harm as a result of neglect and parental unfitness,
specifically, inadequate supervision, failure to protect, and
threat of harm by Tatum when she was arrested for engaging in
prostitution in the presence of the children.
circuit court established reunification as the case-plan
goal. Under the case plan, Tatum was ordered to establish
residential stability, obtain and maintain stable employment
and transportation, display proper parenting skills, attend
individual counseling, submit to a drug-and-alcohol
assessment and follow the recommendations, undergo a
psychological evaluation and comply with the recommendations,
and to resolve all legal issues. DHS was ordered to make a
was found to be in partial compliance at the March 1, 2016
review hearing, and in full compliance at the June 14, 2016
hearing. Custody continued with DHS. On November 2, 2016, DHS
filed a petition for termination of parental rights, alleging
the grounds of twelve months failure to remedy, subsequent
factors, and aggravated circumstances.
did not appear for the February 9, 2017 permanency-planning
hearing. The circuit court found that Tatum was unfit due to
her "significant history of use and abuse of illegal and
prescription drugs; significant medical issues that interfere
with her fitness to work; lack of employment and housing
stability;" and "unsuccessfully treated mental
health issues" and that "all of these issues
endanger the children." The circuit court further found
that Tatum had been unable to resolve her issues, despite the
services offered to her, and that Tatum "would need at
least a year to a year and a half to rehabilitate to be ready
for the children."
termination hearing was held on March 28, 2017. Testimony and
evidence introduced indicated that, during the case, Tatum
developed endometriosis, required an ablation, and then a
complication arose with the ablation that resulted in
infection and a need for a wound-VAC. Tatum's
primary-care physician testified that there was little doubt
that Tatum was in serious pain from the procedure and
complications, and prescribed Tatum pain medication. Tatum,
however, sought treatment from several doctors and emergency
rooms during that time and obtained over 400 oxycodone pills
in a six-month period. Three doctors who had treated Tatum
over the year testified that they believed she had a
narcotics dependency. Doctor Steven Irwin, an interventional
pain physician, also testified. Tatum began seeing him in
October 2016 for pain related to her endometriosis. Dr. Irwin
testified that, as of February 2017, he was starting to wean
Tatum off opioids.
testified about her housing instability throughout the case.
At the beginning of the case, she was living in a hotel with
her children. She then got an apartment but had to move out
for failing to pay $2400 in rent and fees. From there, she
lived in multiple shelters, another hotel for a month, and
then moved to Missouri to live with a man she had met on
Craigslist. She also testified that, at the time of the
termination hearing, she had failed to resolve her criminal
issues, and there was currently a warrant out for her arrest
in Florida on an unresolved shoplifting misdemeanor charge.
order dated May 11, 2017, the circuit court terminated
Tatum's parental rights on all grounds alleged in ...