FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 18JV-14-59]
HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR., JUDGE
Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant.
Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
J. GLADWIN, JUDGE
Taylor appeals the Crittenden County Circuit Court's
October 12, 2017 order terminating her parental rights to her
two children, A.T.2 (born June 1, 2015) and J.T. (born
December 16, 2016). On appeal, Taylor's only argument is
that the trial court erred in basing its termination order
solely on a prior termination-of-parental-rights (TPR) order.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition
for emergency custody and dependency-neglect on June 9, 2015,
as to newborn A.T.2 because Taylor had refused to allow DHS
to take custody of the child based on its open case involving
A.T.1 (born March 18, 2014). The trial court granted an ex
parte order for emergency custody of A.T.2 on June 10, 2015,
based on the petition and attached affidavit that described
Taylor's having given birth to A.T.2, not informing DHS
of the birth despite the open DHS case, and locking herself
and the baby in a camper with no utilities to avoid DHS's
taking the child into custody.
18, 2015, DHS filed a TPR petition alleging that TPR was in
both children's best interest pursuant to two statutory
grounds set out in Arkansas Code Annotated section
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(a) & (vii) (Supp. 2017),
with the latter ground being alleged in regard to only A.T.2.
The trial court set a termination hearing on the TPR petition
and scheduled A.T.2's adjudication hearing for the same
date. To support the twelve-month ground, DHS alleged that
A.T.1 had been taken into DHS custody due to concerns about
Taylor's living situation and mental capacity. The child
was adjudicated dependent-neglected on June 10, 2014, based
on inadequate housing. Taylor was ordered to submit to a
psychological evaluation and follow the recommendations,
obtain safe and stable housing, obtain stable employment
and/or income, complete intensive parenting classes, and
submit to random drug screens. At the time DHS filed its TPR
petition, Taylor did not have safe housing with functional
utilities; A.T.1 was receiving the majority of her nutrition
through a feeding tube in her stomach and was receiving
speech therapy; Taylor was diagnosed with borderline
intellectual functioning; Taylor was denied her application
to the housing authority because she did not provide all the
needed information; and Taylor did not resubmit an
application for housing and refused to attend day classes,
choosing to continue her college courses and to live without
working utilities. DHS alleged the same facts to support the
other-factors ground, adding that A.T.2 had been born on June
1, 2015, while Taylor was living in the camper with no
utilities. DHS emphasized that Taylor had been diagnosed with
borderline intellectual functioning and lacked the skills to
improve her capacity to be a better parent.
trial court filed an order terminating Taylor's parental
rights to A.T.1 and A.T.2 on March 28, 2016. Taylor appealed,
and on October 5, 2016, this court affirmed the TPR order
regarding A.T.1 but reversed the termination as to A.T.2.
See Taylor v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2016
Ark.App. 453, 503 S.W.3d 813.
trial court filed a review order on October 31, 2016,
reflecting this court's decision on appeal. The trial
court severed A.T.2's case from A.T.1's and found
that returning A.T.2 to her mother would not be in the
child's best interest. The goal of the case was adoption,
and Taylor was granted weekly supervised visitation. Taylor
was also ordered to continue to follow the case plan and all
filed on January 5, 2017, a petition for emergency custody
and dependency-neglect in A.T.2's case and alleged that
J.T. had been born on December 16, 2016, during the pendency
of the case. The attached affidavit stated that a DHS
caseworker went to Taylor's residence on December 19,
2016, to complete a home assessment. The caseworker witnessed
dogs in the home, holes in the ceiling where water was
leaking into the room where the baby slept, cords
"coming from an unknown location from the ceiling,
" clutter, a space heater, and roaches. The trial court
filed an ex parte order for emergency custody of J.T. on
January 5, 2017.
January 10, 2017, the attorney ad litem filed a motion to
terminate reunification services, citing Ark. Code Ann.
§§ 9-27-327, -329, and -337. The grounds alleged
were that the children had been subjected to aggravated
circumstances in that Taylor's parental rights had been
involuntarily terminated as to A.T.1 after Taylor had been
offered services and could not remedy the condition that
caused removal. A hearing was set for February 21, 2017.
Also, on January 10, 2017, a probable-cause hearing was held.
An order was filed reflecting that the orders remained
largely the same for Taylor, and an adjudication hearing was
set for February 21, 2017.
is no account of a hearing on February 21, 2017, in the
briefs before this court, but a June 20, 2017
no-reunification-of-services and review order reflects that a
hearing was held on March 28, 2017. The trial court found by
clear and convincing evidence that Taylor had her parental
rights involuntarily terminated as to A.T.1, and it was in
A.T.2 and J.T.'s best interest that the ad litem's
motion for no-reunification services be
granted. The trial court made a finding of
aggravated circumstances in that, based on the history and
length of the case, there was little likelihood that services
would result in successful reunification. The goal of the
case was "changed to adoption." A
permanency-planning hearing was set for April 20, 2017, an
order was filed on that date reflecting that the goal of the
case was adoption, and the court ordered that Taylor continue
to have weekly supervised visits with both children. An order
adjudicating J.T. dependent-neglected was filed on May 23,
2017, and it reflects that the hearing was held on March 28,
2017, and a TPR hearing was set for June 6, 2017.
filed a petition on June 20, 2017, seeking a TPR order as to
both A.T.2 and J.T. The grounds alleged applicable to Taylor
were (1) twelve months out of custody and no remedy, Ark.
Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(a); (2)
failure to support, Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ii)(a); (3) other factors
subsequent to the dependency-neglect petition, Ark. Code Ann.
§ 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a); (4) the parent had
been sentenced in a criminal proceeding for a period of time
that would constitute a substantial period of the child's
life, Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(viii)(a); and (5) parent subjected
the child to aggravated circumstances due to the
no-reunification-of-services order and the parent was found
to have had her parental rights involuntarily terminated as
to a child, Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ix)(a)(3)‒(4). DHS ...