FROM THE GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 28JV-09-214]
HONORABLE BARBARA HALSEY, JUDGE
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
appellant Robin Holloway.
Standridge, for appellant Nathan Warren.
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE.
Holloway and Nathan Warren separately appeal from the
termination of their parental rights to their daughter, E.W.
They each challenge the trial court's statutory-grounds
and best-interest findings. We affirm both terminations.
was born on October 19, 2015. The Arkansas Department of
Human Services (DHS) took a 72-hour hold on her because Robin
already had an open dependency-neglect case concerning
E.W.'s five halfsiblings. The other five children were in
foster care, and E.W. was "added to the open case."
The instant appeal deals only with E.W. By the time E.W. was
born, Robin had been receiving services since March 13, 2014.
During that time, Robin had not been able to achieve a trial
placement or unsupervised visitation- much less reunification
with the other five children. On October 26, 2015, DHS filed
a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect. The
verified affidavit detailed the long history of DHS with
Robin and her other children, which began on April 19, 2007,
and continued through the birth of E.W. The affidavit further
provided that E.W.'s health and safety was in danger
because of allegations involving physical abuse, sexual
abuse, extreme neglect, and inadequate supervision. The trial
court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody the
November 4, 2015, the trial court entered a probable-cause
order. Several continuances were granted by the trial court,
and on April 7, 2016, Nathan filed a petition for
acknowledgment of parental/legal rights and a petition for
custody. The actual adjudication order was filed in open
court on April 29, 2016, even though the trial court's
letter opinion states that "[o]n February 12, 2016,
[E.W.] was adjudicated dependent-neglected based upon the
mother's failure to protect against a Level 3 sex
offender, failure to comply with Court Orders in an open case
on five (5) half-siblings who were also adjudicated
dependent-neglected and having five (5) half-siblings
remaining in foster care."
1, 2016, DHS filed its petition for termination of parental
rights. The petition lists all six children as respondents,
but as mentioned at the outset, the instant appeal deals only
with the termination of Robin and Nathan's parental
rights to E.W. On July 13, 2016, the trial court entered a
review order that, apparently, was based on a May 10, 2016
hearing. On July 15, 2016, the trial court entered an agreed
order of continuance on the petition to terminate regarding
E.W., extending the date to September 29, 2016. On August 29,
2016, DHS filed a motion to change the termination hearing
September to a permanency-planning hearing, to continue the
termination hearing to October 28, 2016, and to terminate
reunification services for Robin Holloway and Notice of
Hearing. The motion explained: "The grounds and
supporting facts for recommending no reunification services
are as follows: The mother, Robin Holloway, on August 18,
2016, had her parental rights involuntarily terminated to the
siblings of [E.W.]."
August 29, 2016, DHS also filed its amended petition for
termination of parental rights for E.W. Several continuances
were granted, and on January 31, 2017, DHS filed another
petition for termination of parental rights. Finally, on
March 6, 2017, and continued on March 27, 2017, the
termination hearing was held. On May 5, 2017, the trial court
prepared a letter opinion, filed the same date, and on May
15, 2017, the order terminating Robin and Nathan's
parental rights was entered. These appeals followed.
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo.
Hudson v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs., 2017
Ark.App. 629, __S.W.3d __. Our inquiry 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 erroneous when, although
there is evidence to support it, on the entire evidence, we
are left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake
has been made. Id. We give a high degree of
deference to the trial court, as it is in a far superior
position to observe the parties before it and judge the
credibility of the witnesses. Id. The
termination-of-parental-rights analysis is twofold, requiring
the trial court to find that a parent is unfit and that
termination is in the best interest of the child.
Id. The first step requires proof of one or more of
the nine enumerated statutory grounds for termination.
Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B) (Repl. 2015). The
best-interest determination must consider the likelihood that
the child will be adopted and the potential harm caused by
returning custody of the child to the parent. Ark. Code Ann.
§ 9-27-341(b)(3)(A). The trial court, however, does not
have to determine that every factor considered be established
by clear and convincing evidence. Hudson,
supra. Instead, after considering all ...