FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TENTH DIVISION [NO.
60JV-17-531] HONORABLE JOYCE WILLIAMS WARREN, JUDGE AFFIRMED
William Shelton, Jr., for appellant.
K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
J. GLADWIN, JUDGE
Marleny Reyes-Ramos appeals the Pulaski County Circuit
Court's May 16, 2018 order terminating her parental
rights to her three children. On appeal, appellant argues that
the circuit court erred by finding that appellee Arkansas
Department of Human Services (DHS) offered her appropriate
family services and that there was little likelihood of
successful reunification. We affirm.
Procedural History and Facts
filed a petition for ex parte emergency custody and
dependency-neglect on May 1, 2017, alleging that three
children were at substantial risk of serious harm as a result
of abuse, neglect, and parental unfitness. The attached
affidavit by DHS agent Tiffany Robinson avowed that appellant
and Rolando Juarez lived together with Juarez's child,
C.J. (born 9/26/2014), and appellant's two children, J.M.
(born 5/13/2013) and D.R. (born 6/08/2011). Appellant and
Juarez had taken C.J. to Arkansas Children's Hospital for
vaccinations on April 26, 2017, when the medical staff
noticed that he was covered in bruises. It was believed that
C.J. had a ruptured gallbladder, but doctors discovered the
gallbladder was still intact during emergency surgery.
Doctors found a rib fracture, pancreas bruises, and a
duodenal hematoma (an indication of trauma). The child also
had several external bruises to his face, back, and bottom at
different healing stages. Juarez told the doctor that C.J.
had fallen into a table causing the bruise to his upper eye.
Juarez also said that C.J. had vomited five times that day
before going to the hospital. Dr. Hollingsworth told
investigators that the injuries were consistent with those
caused by blunt force. She also said that injuries to the
abdomen, bladder, and the rib fracture were all fresh
injuries. Detective Matt Harrellson and the hospital social
worker, Trevor Arnette, informed Robinson of the above facts
and alleged that Juarez had been arrested because he became
aggressive when being interviewed by them. DHS removed all
three children from appellant and Juarez's custody due to
serious physical abuse and Juarez's arrest, and the ex
parte order was obtained on May 1, 2017, wherein it was found
that DHS had made reasonable efforts to prevent removal of
the children from their home.
hearing on May 8, 2017, an order was filed finding that
probable cause continued to exist that the children should be
protected and remain in DHS custody. The court found that it
would be harmful to return appellant's two children to
her because she had not been able to show that she could
protect them from Juarez, who had allegedly harmed his son,
C.J. The circuit court ordered that appellant would receive
supervised visitation with her two children at the DHS office
three times each week, two hours each visit. Appellant was
ordered to cooperate with DHS; notify DHS of any change in
residence, phone number, place or status of employment;
notify DHS if transportation assistance was needed for
visitation or any services; and attend all medical
appointments for the children when notified by DHS.
three children were adjudicated dependent-neglected by order
filed July 3, 2017. The court made this finding by "more
than a preponderance of the evidence" due to abuse and
parental unfitness by Juarez and neglect and parental
unfitness by appellant. The court also recited expert
testimony regarding C.J.'s extensive internal injuries
from blunt force trauma and a doctor's diagnosis of child
physical abuse. The doctor testified that the parents'
explanations for the child's injuries were not plausible.
The court found that Juarez and appellant were not credible
in their testimony about how C.J. had been injured. The court
also recited testimony from D.R. that Juarez disciplined by
hitting them with a closed fist and a belt and that she had
told appellant when the abuse was happening. Detective
Harrellson testified that he had charged Juarez with
first-degree domestic battery after conducting his
investigation, and the court found that Juarez had inflicted
the injuries on C.J. The court specifically held that its
prior finding that DHS had made reasonable efforts still
21, 2017 disposition order held that the children were to
remain in DHS custody. The goal of the case was reunification
of D.R. and J.M. with appellant, with a concurrent goal of
permanent custody with a fit and willing relative. The goal
for C.J. was to obtain a permanent custodian, including
permanent custody with a fit and willing relative, with a
concurrent goal of adoption. Visitation orders remained the
same, and the court also allowed appellant to visit C.J.
under supervision for two hours each week. In addition,
appellant was ordered to have a psychological evaluation and
follow the recommendations; undergo individual/family
counseling as recommended; take medications as prescribed;
refrain from using illegal drugs or alcohol; complete
parenting classes; obtain and maintain safe, stable housing
and stable employment or income; maintain a clean safe home
for herself and the children; demonstrate the ability to
protect the children and keep them safe; and not discuss the
case with the children unless in therapy. The court also
found that DHS had made reasonable efforts to provide
services to the family to prevent removal and safely reunify
October 4, 2017, the circuit court consolidated the instant
case with case No. JN 2017-960, wherein J.R., born to
appellant and Juarez on August 4, 2017, was included in the
pending dependency-neglect case. By the same order, J.R. was
adjudicated dependent-neglected, and appellant received
supervised visitation with J.R. three times a week for two
hours each visit. All orders remained the same, including
that DHS had made reasonable efforts.
case was reviewed at a hearing held October 5, and by order
filed October 20, the court found that the children should
remain in DHS custody because appellant could not protect
them. The court's order states, "The Court believes
[appellant] is fearful of Mr. Juarez, who controls the
household and everything in it." The court found that
appellant was not credible and that she and Juarez had
violated the court's order by having contact with the
children on September 27, 2017. The goals remained the same
for the children. The court found that DHS had made
reasonable efforts to provide family services for each of the
children to achieve the goal of the case.
order entitled "Review Order on Issue of Whether DHS Has
Made Reasonable Efforts Regarding Juveniles' Separation
and to Ensure the Juveniles Have Regular Consistent
Visitation or Other Ongoing Contact" was filed December
4, 2017, and it reflects that DHS had made reasonable efforts
to place the children together, having placed J.R. with D.R.
and J.M. and having found no foster home available to accept
all four children. Further, the court found ...