FROM THE CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT [NO.
08EJV-16-22] HONORABLE SCOTT JACKSON, JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
E. Corbyn, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE
Bradley appeals from the termination of her parental rights
to H.P., who was born on May 19, 2010. Her counsel has filed
a motion to withdraw and brief pursuant to Linker-Flores
v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, 359 Ark. 131,
194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), and Rule 6-9(i)(1) of the Rules of the
Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, asserting there
are no meritorious grounds to support an appeal in this case.
The clerk of our court mailed a copy of counsel's motion
and brief to Bradley informing her of her right to file pro
se points for reversal. Bradley filed her pro se points, and
the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) has filed a
responsive brief. We affirm the trial court's termination
of Bradley's parental rights and grant counsel's
motion to withdraw.
review the termination of parental rights de novo. Hall
v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs., 2018 Ark.App. 4.
An order terminating parental rights must be based on a
finding by clear and convincing evidence that the
sought-after termination is in the children's best
interest. Id. The trial court must consider the
likelihood that the children will be adopted if the
parent's rights are terminated and the potential harm
that could be caused if the children were returned to a
parent. Id. The trial court must also find that one
of the grounds stated in the termination statute is
satisfied. Id. Clear and convincing evidence is that
degree of proof that will produce in the fact-finder a firm
conviction that the allegation has been established.
Id. When the burden of proving a disputed fact is by
clear and convincing evidence, we ask whether the trial
court's finding on the disputed fact is clearly
erroneous. Id. A finding is clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, we are left with a
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.
the trial court terminated Bradley's parental rights,
finding DHS had proved the statutory grounds of "failure
to remedy" and "aggravated circumstances" and
further finding it was in H.P.'s best interest to do so.
Our review of the record confirms counsel's assertion
that there was only one adverse ruling in this case, which
was the termination itself. We find no clear error.
was removed from Bradley's custody on May 9, 2016, just
before his sixth birthday. The removal was based on a call to
the child-abuse hotline alleging severe abuse to H.P. by
Bradley's boyfriend and in Bradley's presence. The
abuse included binding H.P. with duct tape and golf clubs.
Bradley and H.P. were living in a camper at the time, and
Bradley was suspected of abusing drugs. Probable cause for
the removal was subsequently found. Bradley was ordered to
undergo substance-abuse and psychological evaluations, submit
to random drug testing, attend individual counseling and
parenting classes, and attend scheduled visits with H.P.
was subsequently adjudicated dependent-neglected by order
entered July 8, 2016. In addition to the probable-cause
finding, the trial court further found Bradley continued to
allow the boyfriend in her life and lacked stable housing.
The first review hearing showed partial compliance with the
case plan, but the subsequent review hearing found no
compliance with either the case plan or the court's
orders, and Bradley was ordered to allow DHS to observe the
collection of her urine specimen. The goal of the case was
changed to adoption in the permanency-planning order entered
on April 6, 2017.
13, 2017, DHS filed a petition to terminate Bradley's
parental rights, and the termination hearing was held on July
27, 2017. DHS presented one witness, Clay Reynolds, the
caseworker assigned to the family. Reynolds explained that
H.P. had been removed from Bradley's custody because of
environmental conditions (she was living in a camper) and
because she was on drugs and failed to protect H.P. from
severe abuse by her boyfriend. Reynolds said DHS offered
Bradley several services, including parenting classes,
supervised visitation, drug assessments, substance-abuse
treatment and counseling, drug screens, group therapy, a
psychological evaluation and its recommendations, individual
counseling, and domestic-violence counseling. He said
referrals were made for housing and education services, and
recommendations were made for employment and
testified Bradley completed her drug-and-alcohol assessment
and her psychological evaluation but failed to follow the
recommendations of both. He reported that Bradley said she
had completed sixteen hours of parenting classes, but he also
noted she did not put those lessons to use because DHS had to
interrupt visits with H.P. and redirect her parenting
efforts. He testified that she visited with H.P. at first but
stopped when she was incarcerated for two months in 2016 on
charges that he believed included drugs, possession of a
firearm, and robbery or burglary. He further testified that
her visits with H.P. after her release were curtailed because
she could not pass a drug screen.
explained that DHS attempted fourteen drug screens with
Bradley, but she did not appear for or comply with ten of
those fourteen screens. He said that of the ones she
completed, two were positive for marijuana; one was positive
for amphetamines, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, and MDMA
(ecstasy); and the fourth test was negative. He cautioned,
however, that the negative test was questionable because no
one observed Bradley giving the urine sample. Reynolds also
testified that Bradley did not have an appropriate home for
H.P. and that the causes for removal had not been remedied.
respect to H.P.'s best interest, Reynolds expressed his
opinion that termination was in H.P.'s best interest,
explaining that a possible adoptive home had been identified
for him and that he was at substantial risk of harm if
returned to Bradley because she was extremely unstable. He
further explained that Bradley did not keep appointments,
failed to keep in touch with DHS, failed to work the case
plan, and continued to abuse drugs. He also expressed his
opinion that further services would not facilitate
reunification because of Bradley's history ...