FROM THE POPE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 58JV-15-251]
HONORABLE KEN D. COKER, JR., JUDGE
Standridge, for appellant.
Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
LARRYD. VAUGHT, JUDGE
Bolden appeals after the Pope County Circuit Court entered an
order terminating his parental rights to his sons, N.B. (born
9-3-15) and L.B. (born 4-5-14). On appeal, Bolden challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the circuit
court's findings that the Arkansas Department of Human
Services (DHS) proved statutory grounds and that termination
was in the best interest of the children. Bolden also argues
that the circuit court's termination decision is
fundamentally unfair. We affirm.
December 1, 2015, DHS exercised a seventy-two-hour hold on
N.B. and L.B. On the same date, DHS filed a petition for
emergency custody and dependency-neglect seeking to remove
the children from the custody of their mother, Crystal
Griffin, due to her drug use and the physical abuse of the
children while in her care. Bolden, the putative father of
N.B. and L.B., was incarcerated at the time. The circuit
court entered an emergency order on December 3, 2015, and a
probable-cause order was entered on December 16, 2015. An
adjudication order was entered on January 11, 2016,
wherein the circuit court found the children were
dependent-neglected based on parental unfitness due to
Griffin's drug use and her failure to protect the
children. The court further found that Bolden had not
presented evidence that he had established significant
contacts with the children; therefore, putative-parent rights
did not attach. The goal of the case was reunification.
review-hearing order was entered on March 18, 2016,
which the court found that Bolden is the legal father of N.B.
and L.B. The order further directed Bolden to submit to
random drug screens; attend and complete parenting classes;
obtain and maintain stable and appropriate housing and
employment; and maintain weekly contact with DHS. The goal of
the case continued to be reunification. A second
review-hearing order was entered on June 13, 2016. This order
reordered Bolden to comply with the same case plan. The goal
of the case continued to be reunification. A third
review-hearing order was entered on August 29, 2016. The
court reiterated the case-plan directives for Bolden. The
court also directed DHS to initiate an ICPC home study on
Bolden. The goal of the case continued to be reunification.
November 28, 2016, a permanency-planning hearing was held. In
addition to the previously ordered services, the court
ordered Bolden to provide DHS with proof of employment and be
available for random drug testing. The goal of the case
continued to be reunification. On December 5, 2016, the
circuit court entered an order appointing special advocates
second permanency-planning hearing was held on January 23,
2017. As it relates to Bolden, the court restated its
case-plan directives. The goal of the case was changed to
termination and adoption, and a termination hearing was
February 27, 2017, DHS filed a petition for termination of
parental rights against both Griffin and Bolden. DHS alleged
that termination was in the best interest of N.B. and L.B.
and that several grounds supported termination under Arkansas
Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B) (Supp. 2017),
including the failure-to-remedy, subsequent-factors, and
hearing on the termination petition was held on April 24,
2017. DHS caseworker Milissa Ennis testified that Bolden was
incarcerated when N.B. and L.B. were placed in DHS custody in
December 2015, was released in February 2016, and was
reincarcerated in late January 2017. She said that he was
expected to be released in June 2017.
further testified that Bolden had sporadic employment during
the case. She also stated he completed parenting classes and
maintained "somewhat" stable housing. She said that
after he was released from prison in February 2016, he lived
in Pope County from February to May 2016, moved to Union
County where he lived from May to July 2016, moved to
Louisiana where he lived from July to October 2016, and moved
back to Pope County where he lived from October 2016 to
January 2017. She said he was reincarcerated in January 2017
for failure to pay court-ordered child support.
reported that Bolden tested positive for opiates and THC on
May 4, 2016, and that he had a prescription for hydrocodone
at that time; he was positive for opiates and THC on June 13,
2016; he had negative drug screens on June 20 and 30, 2016;
he was positive for oxy and methadone on December 20, 2016;
and he was negative for drugs on December 30, 2016.
testified that Bolden attended only fifteen of forty-one
scheduled visits with N.B. and L.B. and that there were big
gaps in time when Bolden did not visit the children at all.
She said that his last visit with the children was on
December 30, 2016. Ennis stated that when Bolden did visit
the children, the visits went well. Finally, Ennis testified
that N.B. and L.B. were adoptable and that they lacked
medical or behavioral issues that would prevent them from
testified that at the onset of this case, he had been
incarcerated on a drug charge and was released on February 1,
2016. He said that he was later prosecuted and found guilty
of failing to pay court-ordered child support for his two
older children in the amount of $18, 000 to $20, 000 for
which he received a ten-year-probation sentence. He testified
that he absconded from probation when he moved to Louisiana
without permission but that he did not know he was not
permitted to leave Arkansas. Instead of having his probation
extended, he elected to serve two years' imprisonment. He
testified that he chose prison because DHS asked him to take
care of his legal problems. ...