Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Harley v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

September 19, 2018

LESLIE HARLEY APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILD APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE LOGAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT [NO. 42BJV-17-4] HONORABLE TERRY SULLIVAN, JUDGE

          Tina Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.

         One brief only.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE

         Appellant Leslie Harley appeals from the termination of her parental rights to her daughter L.S., who was born on May 5, 2015.[1] Pursuant to Linker-Flores v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004), and Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i), Leslie's counsel has filed a no-merit brief and a motion to withdraw, asserting that there are no issues of arguable merit to support an appeal and that she should be relieved as counsel. A copy of Leslie's counsel's brief and motion was mailed to Leslie, and after being informed of her right to file pro se points, Leslie declined to file any points. We affirm and grant appellant's counsel's motion to be relieved.

         We review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo. Dinkins v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 344 Ark. 207, 40 S.W.3d 286 (2001). At least one statutory ground must exist, in addition to a finding that it is in the child's best interest to terminate parental rights; these must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3) (Supp. 2017); Mitchell v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2013 Ark.App. 715, 430 S.W.3d 851. Clear and convincing evidence is that degree of proof that will produce in the fact-finder a firm conviction as to the allegation sought to be established. Gray v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2013 Ark.App. 24. The appellate inquiry is whether the trial court's finding that the disputed fact was proved by clear and convincing evidence is clearly erroneous. J.T. v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 329 Ark. 243, 947 S.W.2d 761 (1997). 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. Yarborough v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 96 Ark.App. 247, 240 S.W.3d 626 (2006).

         On January 17, 2017, appellee Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody of L.S. Attached to the petition was an affidavit of a DHS caseworker stating that DHS had exercised a 72-hour hold on the child after Leslie was found highly intoxicated in a ditch digging for arrowheads. Leslie did not know where L.S. was, and L.S. was passed around from person to person before the police located her several hours later. Leslie was arrested for public intoxication and endangering the welfare of a minor. The affidavit further stated that Leslie's parental rights had been involuntarily terminated as to L.S.'s older sibling, M.S.[2] On the same day that DHS's petition was filed, the trial court entered an ex parte order of emergency custody of L.S. The trial court subsequently entered a probable-cause order.

         On February 21, 2017, the trial court entered an adjudication order finding L.S. dependent-neglected based on Leslie's stipulation that L.S. was subjected to inadequate supervision. Leslie was ordered to complete parenting classes, submit to drug screening, submit to a drug-and-alcohol assessment, submit to a psychological evaluation, complete counseling, obtain and maintain income sufficient to support herself and the child, and visit the child regularly. The goal of the case was reunification.

         A review order was entered on May 16, 2017, wherein the trial court found that Leslie had been only minimally compliant with the case plan. The trial court found that Leslie had not had a drug-and-alcohol assessment, had failed to attend counseling, had not completed parenting classes, and was unemployed. The trial court did, however, find that Leslie had been visiting the child regularly and had tested negative on drug screens.

         A second review order was entered on September 9, 2017. In that order, the trial court found that Leslie had not complied with the case plan, was unemployed, had not completed parenting classes, had a suspended license and owed $5000 in fines, and had pending criminal charges. The trial court further found that Leslie had missed most of her visits with L.S. and had tested positive for methamphetamine on July 24, 2017. The goal of the case was changed to termination of parental rights.

         DHS filed a petition to terminate Leslie's parental rights on September 26, 2017. In the petition, DHS alleged numerous statutory grounds for termination and stated that Leslie had stopped regularly visiting the child and had totally quit on the case plan. DHS attached to its petition the previous termination order, filed on December 21, 2015, wherein Leslie's parental rights to L.S.'s older sibling, M.S., had been terminated. In the previous termination order, Leslie's parental rights to M.S. were terminated due to Leslie's positive drug screens, unstable housing, general lack of compliance, and abandonment of the child.

         After a termination hearing, the trial court entered an order on January 10, 2018, terminating Leslie's parental rights to L.S. The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of parental rights was in L.S.'s best interest, and the trial court specifically considered the likelihood of adoption, as well as the potential harm of returning the child to the custody of her mother as required by Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(A). The trial court also found clear and convincing evidence of four statutory grounds under subsection (b)(3)(B). Pursuant to subsection (b)(3)(B)(iv), the trial court found that Leslie had abandoned the juvenile. Under subsection (b)(3)(B)(vii)(a), the trial court found that other factors or issues arose subsequent to the filing of the original petition for dependency-neglect that demonstrated that placement of the juvenile in the custody of the parent was contrary to the juvenile's health, safety, or welfare and that, despite the offer of appropriate family services, the parent had manifested the incapacity or indifference to remedy those issues or factors or rehabilitate the parent's circumstances that prevent the placement of the juvenile in the custody of the parent. Under subsection (b)(3)(B)(ix)(a)(3), the trial court found that Leslie had subjected the juvenile to aggravated circumstances because there was little likelihood that services to the family would result in successful reunification. Finally, pursuant to subsection (b)(3)(B)(ix)(a)(4), the trial court found that Leslie had previously had her parental rights involuntarily terminated as to a sibling of L.S.

         DHS caseworker Pamela Feemster testified at the termination hearing. Ms. Feemster stated that although Leslie participated in the development of the case plan, there had been minimal progress or compliance. According to Ms. Feemster, Leslie had not completed a psychological evaluation or adequately participated in counseling services. Nor did Leslie complete a drug-and-alcohol assessment or parenting classes. Ms. Feemster stated that Leslie had missed ten of the last twelve scheduled visits with L.S. and that three of these missed visits were the result of failed drug screens. On the day of the termination hearing, Leslie tested positive for prescription drugs without a prescription.

         A sentencing order was admitted showing that Leslie had recently pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a minor, for which she received a two-year suspended sentence. Ms. Feemster testified that a few weeks before the termination hearing, Leslie was charged with the additional offenses of reckless ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.