[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
FROM THE LOGAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT [NO.
42BJV-17-13], HONORABLE TERRY M. SULLIVAN, JUDGE
Law Firm, by: Allison R. Allred, for appellant Chelsi Isbell.
Law Firm, Jacksonville, by: Hubert W. Alexander, for
appellant Janet Nicholas.
Corbyn, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for
J. GLADWIN, Judge
Isbell and her mother, Janet Nicholas, appeal the Logan
County Circuit Courts order terminating Chelsis parental
rights to A.I. (born June 20, 2016) and denying Janets
custody petition. Chelsi argues that (1) the circuit court
erred by terminating her parental rights; (2) the circuit
court abused its discretion by denying her motion for
continuance; and (3) appellee Arkansas Department of Human
Services (DHS) failed to make reasonable accommodations for
her in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA). Janet argues that the circuit court clearly erred by
(1) refusing to place the child with her and (2) terminating
Chelsis parental rights. We affirm.
filed for emergency custody and dependency-neglect on March
10, 2017, and the attached affidavit alleged that police
officers had encountered Chelsi walking down the street with
A.I. Chelsi told them she was going to the store to get
formula for the baby and that she had no food or running
water at home. She told them she did not have money and that
she planned to steal the formula. The officers went to
Chelsis home to do a welfare check. Chelsi told them she did
not have family. When they asked her if Janet was her mother,
she said that Janet was a woman who had moved her from Little
Rock to Logan County to find a house and that she did not
know Janet. Chelsi said that her water had been turned off
for two weeks and that her electricity would be turned off
soon. When told that DHS would take A.I. into custody, Chelsi
was not upset or concerned, and she said, "Ok, what
about me?" The ex parte order followed.
stipulated to the emergency conditions necessitating removal
at a probable-cause hearing on March 17. She was granted
supervised visitation and ordered to undergo drug screening;
attend parenting classes; obtain a psychological evaluation;
attend counseling; watch "The Clock is Ticking"
video; and obtain stable housing, income, and transportation.
DHS was ordered to consider any appropriate family member for
A.I.s placement. Janet filed a motion to intervene on May 2
she be granted visitation and custody as A.I.s grandparent.
Attached to the intervention motion was a custody petition
alleging that she had a significant relationship with A.I.,
that DHS had arbitrarily rejected her for family placement,
and that it was in the childs best interest to be placed in
hearing on May 2 resulted in a second probable-cause order
finding that A.I. was dependent-neglected and that she had
been subjected to inadequate food, environmental neglect, and
failure to protect. The goal was set for reunification, and
Chelsi was ordered to submit to a drug-and-alcohol assessment
and follow the recommendations; visit A.I. regularly; comply
with her case plan; and remain in contact with her
caseworker. DHS was ordered to conduct a home study on Janet.
June review hearing, the circuit court found that A.I.
continued to need services and ordered that she remain in DHS
custody. The goal remained reunification, and the court noted
that Chelsi had not contacted DHS since the last hearing or
allowed DHS entry into her home, nor had she attended her
psychological-evaluation appointment. Janet was permitted to
intervene in the case, and the court noted its concerns about
Janet, including her problem with alcohol. Janet had a second
DUI within a five-year period in March 2015, and her drivers
license was suspended, after which an interlock device was
placed on her vehicle. The court also found that she owned
Nicks Village Pub, which was a bar that served alcohol and
was open until 5:00 a.m.; however, Janet had testified that
she did not believe it was a bar.
hearing was held on October 17, and the circuit court found
that Janet was "skating the issue on her alcohol
use." The hearing was continued until December 5, and at
its conclusion, the court ordered that the goal of the case
be changed to adoption with DHS to file a petition for
termination of parental rights. The court found that DHS had
made reasonable efforts and that
8. The mother, [Chelsi], has not complied with the case plan
in that she has no income, she failed to show for her
hair-follicle appointment, she failed to show up for her
psychological-evaluation appointment, she failed to start
counseling or parenting classes, she has not contacted [DHS],
and she has not visited her child since the case started. She
was involuntarily committed by the State of Arkansas in July
and spent seven days in acute care.
9. The Court heard testimony at this hearing from the
following witnesses in regards to Janet Nicholass petition
for custody: Cynthia Cagle, a licensed social worker and
therapist who evaluated Janet, her home, and business for a
SAFE home study; Dr. Kenneth Counts, a psychologist and
neuropsychologist, who evaluated Janet; and Janet, the
grandmother. The Court also considered the testimony from FSW
Pam Feemster and Janet Nicholas from October 17, 2017, when
this review hearing started. The Court considered the
Petition of the Intervenor, Janet Nicholas for custody of the
minor child and completely denied her any relief, and
ordering her dismissed with prejudice from the case and from
further participation in it.
12. [sic] The Court made the following findings based upon
the testimony and evidence: The Court will not place [A.I.]
with Janet due to her minimization of her use of alcohol and
her dishonesty and lack of details in her testimony to the
Court and others about her history of alcohol use,
driving-while-intoxicated convictions, and her ownership of a
pub. Cynthia Cagle, who evaluated Janet for
a SAFE home study, reported that Janet told her that she had
a DWI in 2012 and has not been arrested since. She told Dr.
Counts that she had one DWI. But, she testified at the
October l7th hearing that she actually had three DWIs, one in
2003, one in 2012, and the last one in Saline County or
Searcy in 2015. At todays hearing, the Court found out that
the 2015 DWI was in Pope County, not Saline County or Searcy,
and that Janet had a fourth DWI in Greers Ferry in 2007 that
she failed to testify about at the October 27th [sic]
hearing. The Court also noted that Janet testified previously
that she owns Nicks Village Pub and that it was a restaurant
and not a bar but then acknowledged that it stays open to
5:00 a.m. in the morning. It sells alcohol, and has a happy
hour. Janet is not participating in any after care like AA
meetings or counseling for alcohol issues and testified today
that she does not have an alcohol problem. Also, Janet is
enabling her daughter, Chelsi, who has not come ...