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Parnell v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

February 6, 2019

CASEY PARNELL APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILD APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EIGHTH DIVISION [NO. 60JV-17-791] HONORABLE WILEY A. BRANTON, JR., JUDGE

          Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.

          Ellen K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.

          Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor child.

          RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE

         Casey Parnell appeals the Pulaski County Circuit Court's order terminating her parental rights to her daughter, K.L. On appeal, Parnell argues that the circuit court erred in finding that it was in K.L.'s best interest to terminate her parental rights. We affirm.

         On July 5, 2017, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed an ex parte petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect of K.L. In the affidavit attached to the petition, DHS stated that it had exercised an emergency hold over K.L. because Parnell had exposed the child to domestic violence, had tested positive for methamphetamine and THC, and was homeless. The affidavit further noted that Parnell had suicidal thoughts. The court entered an order of emergency custody that same day.

         On July 14, 2017, the court entered an order finding probable cause for the emergency custody. On September 20, 2017, the court entered an adjudication order. In the order, the court adjudicated K.L. dependent-neglected based on Parnell's mental and emotional instability, housing instability, and illegal drug use. The court further noted that Parnell had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter of her son in Illinois in 2012, and it made an aggravated-circumstances finding. The court set concurrent goals of reunification and relative placement. The court ordered DHS to arrange a home study on K.L.'s maternal uncle, Jacob Parnell, who lived in Illinois.

         On November 20, 2017, the court entered a permanency-planning order. The court found that Parnell had made efforts to comply with services. The court noted that Parnell had tested negative on her past ten drug screenings and negative on her alcohol screenings. The court noted that she did not have a driver's license or a car but that a friend and her employer had assisted her with transportation.

         On April 3, 2018, Parnell filed consent to termination of her parental rights to K.L. However, on April 4, she filed a notice of withdrawal of her consent.

         On April 17, the circuit court entered a permanency-planning order from an April 3 hearing. The court changed the goal of the case to termination of Parnell's parental rights. The court found that Parnell had been untruthful concerning the circumstances surrounding her conviction of involuntary manslaughter. The court further referenced the report from Parnell's August 2017 psychological evaluation. In the report, Dr. Paul Deyoub found that Parnell had borderline personality disorder. The report further stated:

There is and has been a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships with extremes in relationship chaos. There is identity disturbance, persistent unstable self-image, periodic substance abuse, affective instability, inappropriate and intense anger and constantly changing her situation with marked immaturity. In addition, no matter what her version is, she is a convicted child-abuser and was incarcerated for the death of her newborn baby. When [K.L.] was age three months Ms. Parnell was involved in chaotic relationships and could not care for her child, as she was leaving [K.L.] with a teenage girl and continually fought with her girlfriend.

         The court noted that Parnell had been arrested in February 2018 for domestic battery but that she did not report the arrest to DHS and initially denied it at a March meeting. The court again made a finding of aggravated circumstances. The court noted that Parnell had a "fragile mental and emotional state of mind."

         On May 4, 2018, DHS filed a petition for termination of Parnell's parental rights. DHS alleged the subsequent-factors ground pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a). DHS further alleged grounds pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(xi)(a)(1) and (3) that Parnell had been found by a court of competent ...


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