FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26JV-17-179],
HONORABLE LYNN WILLIAMS, JUDGE
Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
Corbyn, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for
A. WOMACK, Associate Justice
Appellant Karen Langston appeals the circuit court order
terminating her parental rights. On appeal, she asserts the
circuit court erred in denying her court-appointed attorneys
request to withdraw after Langston had terminated his
services and sought to hire a new attorney. Our court of
appeals affirmed the decision of the circuit court.
Langston v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 615, 567 S.W.3d
549. Langston petitioned this court for review, which was
granted. When we grant a petition for review, we treat the
appeal as if it had been originally filed in this court.
Holland v. State, 2015 Ark. 341, 471 S.W.3d 179. We
affirm the circuit courts order terminating parental rights
and vacate the opinion of the court of appeals.
March 2017, the Arkansas Department of Human Services
("DHS") removed Langstons son, K.L., from her
custody, finding that K.L. was at risk of substantial harm
due to Langstons use of methamphetamine. The circuit court
found that for nearly a year, Langston failed to comply with
her case plan and court orders and she had made no progress
toward alleviating or mitigating the causes of K.L.s
removal. On April 13, 2018, DHS filed a petition in the
Garland County Circuit Court for the termination of
Langstons parental rights.
petition for termination of parental rights was served on
Langston on April 20, 2018, and the circuit court convened a
termination hearing on May 23rd. Langston did not appear at
the termination hearing. Before the hearing began, Langstons
attorney informed the court that he had spoken to Langston
the day before, and following their conversation, she sent
him an email stating he was fired and that she was going to
hire a new attorney. He presented the court with an oral
motion to withdraw as counsel. There are no oral or written
requests in the record from Langston for a continuance or
asking that she be allowed a change of attorney.
opposed the motion to withdraw and argued that Langston had
been served under Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 5 and that
she had over a month to fire her attorney and hire a new one.
The attorney ad litem remained neutral on the motion. The
circuit court denied the motion and Langstons attorney
indicated he was prepared to represent her at the hearing.
The hearing continued without Langston, and her parental
rights were terminated. She appeals the termination order.
Standard of Review
court reviews denials of motions to withdraw for an abuse of
discretion. Townsend v. State,350 Ark. 129, 136, 85
S.W.3d 526, 529 (2002). A court commits an abuse of
discretion when it ...