FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04JV-15-499]
HONORABLE THOMAS E. SMITH, JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
Abramson and Murphy, JJ., agree.
WAYMOND M. BROWN, JUDGE
Benton County Circuit Court terminated the parental rights of
appellant Ava Mouse to her daughter, A.G. (DOB: 1-14-15).
Counsel has filed a brief pursuant to Linker-Flores v.
Arkansas Department of Human Services,  and Arkansas
Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i), along with a motion to withdraw on
the basis that there is no merit to this appeal. Appellant
was notified of her right to file pro se points for reversal,
and she has filed such points. We affirm the termination and
grant counsel's motion to withdraw.
Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i)(1) allows counsel for an appellant
in a termination-of-parental-rights case to file a no-merit
petition and motion to withdraw if, after studying the record
and researching the law, counsel determines that the
appellant has no meritorious basis for an appeal. The
petition must include an argument section that lists all
adverse rulings to the appellant made by the circuit court on
all objections, motions, and requests made by the party at
the hearing from which the appeal arose and explain why each
adverse ruling is not a meritorious ground for
reversal. The abstract and addendum shall contain
all rulings adverse to the appellant made by the circuit
court at the hearing from which the order on appeal
case began after Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)
was contacted by the Bentonville Sheriff's Office on
August 17, 2015, and notified that A.G.'s parents were in
the process of being arrested for possession of
methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. A warrant was
executed on appellant's home after she sold
methamphetamine to an informant with A.G. present. DHS
exercised a seventy-two-hour hold on A.G. and filed a
petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect on
August 19, 2015. The court entered an ex parte order for
emergency custody the same day. A.G. was adjudicated
dependent-neglected in an order filed on October 13, 2015,
due to inadequate supervision because of drug abuse. The
court set the goal of the case as reunification and ordered
DHS to provide certain services.
court conducted a permanency-planning hearing on May 10,
2016. In the order entered the same day, the court found that
appellant was in compliance with the case plan and that a
trial home placement with appellant may start. In the
permanency- planning order entered on July 5, 2016, the court
found that appellant was partially compliant, but it
nonetheless returned custody of A.G. to appellant. In the
permanency-planning order entered on October 25, 2016, the
court found that appellant was not in compliance with the
case plan; however, it allowed appellant to maintain custody
of A.G. The court ordered appellant to participate in a
drug-and-alcohol assessment, to promptly respond to CASA and
DHS when contacted, to call DHS weekly, and to attend every
H.E.L.P. meeting in Siloam Springs. The court also ordered
appellant to complete a hair-follicle test that day.
field a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect
on November 17, 2016, stating that on November 15, 2016, DHS
had received confirmation that a hair-follicle test performed
on A.G. was positive for methamphetamine. Appellant had a
positive hair-follicle test for methamphetamine the previous
week. The court entered an ex parte order for emergency
custody on November 18, 2016. In the probable-cause order of
November 22, 2016, the court noted that the circumstances of
this removal were the same as the original removal and that
no adjudication was necessary. The court held a disposition
hearing on December 6, 2016. In the order filed the same day,
the court set a concurrent goal of adoption and
reunification. Appellant was ordered to appear at DHS every
Monday. DHS filed a petition for the termination of parental
rights on February 24, 2017, alleging several grounds to
support the termination of appellant's parental rights.
The court scheduled a termination-of-parental-rights hearing
for March 14, 2017.
termination hearing took place on March 14, 2017. At the
beginning of the hearing, appellant read a statement to the
court in which she admitted that she had not had any contact
with A.G. since the child was removed the second time and
that she had not had any contact with anyone in the case. She
said that she had "remained high" since A.G. was
removed because she "didn't want to face
reality" or her "sober thoughts." She said
that prior to a month and a half ago, she was willing to sign
away her parental rights but that she has since changed her
mind and wanted another chance. Her attorney informed the
court that appellant was currently serving one year in RPF.
Sarah Harper, a DHS worker, testified that appellant failed
to follow the case plan and that she continued to use drugs
even after she had completed services offered by DHS. She
stated that A.G. faced potential harm if returned to
appellant due to the drug issues. She also testified that
appellant's jail sentence was a substantial period in
A.G.'s life. She stated that she was not aware of any
services that DHS could offer appellant to change the outcome
of this case. She opined that A.G. was adoptable. Harper was
the only person to testify at the hearing.
trial court entered an order terminating appellant's
parental rights on April 25, 2017. The court found that there
was a likelihood that A.G. would be adopted and that
returning A.G. to appellant would result in potential harm.
As to the statutory grounds, the order stated in pertinent
a. That a juvenile has been adjudicated by the court to be
dependent-neglected and has continued to be out of the
custody of the parent for twelve (12) months and, despite a
meaningful effort by the department to rehabilitate the
parent and correct the conditions that ...