FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT
[NO. 66JV-17-238] HONORABLE ANNIE HENDRICKS, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
E. Corbyn, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
Kayla Picinich appeals from the October 31, 2017 order of the
Sebastian County Circuit Court adjudicating her child
dependent-neglected. On appeal, Picinich argues that the
circuit court lost subject-matter jurisdiction and committed
reversible error by failing to enter a written adjudication
order within thirty days of the adjudication hearing per
Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-27-327(f). We affirm.
15, 2017, the Department of Human Services (DHS) exercised an
emergency seventy-two hour hold on Picinich's child, P.P.
(DOB 5/13/2017). DHS filed a petition for emergency custody
and dependency neglect on May 17, 2017. The petition alleged
P.P. dependent-neglected based on the fact that Picinich
voluntarily terminated her parental rights to her two other
children on March 31, 2017-less than two months prior to
P.P.'s birth. The affidavit attached to the petition
stated that based on interviews with family members, the
circumstances were such that Picinich and the identified
biological father still could not ensure the safety of P.P.
That same day, the circuit court entered an ex parte order of
emergency custody. A probable-cause order was entered June
19, 2017, that stipulated that probable cause existed at the
time the hold was exercised and continued to exist such that
it was necessary that P.P. continue in the legal custody of
DHS and provisional care of her maternal grandparents.
adjudication hearing, held on June 21, 2017, Picinich agreed
to stipulate to a dependency-neglect finding. The circuit
court found from the bench that P.P. was dependent-neglected
based upon parental unfitness. It ordered custody to remain
with DHS with a goal of reunification. The adjudication order
was not entered until October 31, 2017. This timely appeal
dependency-neglect cases, the standard of review on appeal is
de novo, but we do not reverse the circuit court's
findings unless they are clearly erroneous or clearly against
the preponderance of the evidence. Samuels v. Ark.
Dep't of Human Servs., 2016 Ark.App. 2, at 6-7, 479
S.W.3d 596, 600. A finding is clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court
on the entire evidence is left with a definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been made. Id. In
reviewing a dependency-neglect adjudication, we defer to the
circuit court's evaluation of the credibility of the
witnesses. Id. The focus of an adjudication hearing
is on the child, not the parent; at this stage of a
proceeding, the Juvenile Code is concerned with whether the
child is dependent-neglected. Id.
dependency-neglect cases, a written adjudication order shall
be filed by the court, or by a party or party's attorney
as designated by the court, within thirty (30) days of the
date of the hearing or prior to the next hearing, whichever
is sooner. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-327(f).
the circuit court conducted the adjudication hearing on June
21, 2017, and the adjudication order was not filed until 132
days later. Picinich asserts that the court's failure to
enter the order within the time period authorized under the
Juvenile Code deprived the circuit court of jurisdiction to
enter its order and that the court committed reversible error
by entering the order.
assert that our court has already resolved that noncompliance
with the Juvenile Code's time frames does not take away
the circuit court's jurisdiction, and we agree. We most
recently addressed this argument in Turner v. Arkansas
Dep't of Human Servs., 2018 Ark.App. 52, 539 S.W.3d
635. There, the appellant never raised the issue that the
adjudication order was entered well beyond the statutory
deadline until after her parental rights were terminated and
we held that it precluded our review of the issue. Here,
while the issue was raised in a timely manner, we are still
precluded from addressing it based on our further explanation
We recognize appellant's argument that this is an issue
of subject-matter jurisdiction and may be raised for the
first time on appeal. Our relevant case law suggests
otherwise. Although the juvenile code sets forth certain time
frames for the court regarding the various hearings and
orders, these statutes do not express a remedy for a
violation of these time limits. We have held that when the
legislature has not seen fit to fashion a remedy, it is not
the province of the court of appeals to do so. Id.
We have also held that the circuit court's violation of a
statutory time frame under the juvenile code does not cause
the court to lose jurisdiction over the case when the General
Assembly did not provide a sanction for the violation and
there was no evidence that such a result was intended.
Termination cases are unique civil cases because time is
viewed from the juvenile's perspective, and the best
interests of the children take precedence at every stage of
the proceedings. To reverse this case would be contrary to
[the child's] best interest. We hold that the circuit
court's violation of the time limits set forth in ...