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.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
A. WOMACK, Associate Justice.
Karen Langston appeals the circuit court order terminating
her parental rights. On appeal, she asserts the circuit court
erred in denying her court-appointed attorney's 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. 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 court's order
terminating parental rights and vacate the opinion of the
court of appeals.
March 2017, the Arkansas Department of Human Services
("DHS") removed Langston's son, K.L., from her
custody, finding that K.L. was at risk of substantial harm
due to Langston's 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
Langston's 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,
Langston's 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
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 Langston's attorney
indicated he was prepared to represent her at the hearing.
The hearing continued without Langston, and here 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 carelessly exercises its discretion
without due consideration. Silkman v. Evangelical
Lutheran Good Samaritan Soc'y, 2015 Ark. 422, at 5,
474 S.W.3d 74, 77.
Arguments and Analysis
appeal, Langston argues that the circuit court committed a
reversible error by denying her counsel's motion to
withdraw. She claims that by denying the motion, the circuit
court violated her Sixth Amendment right to counsel of
one's choosing. Langston's attorney did not object to
the circuit court's ruling on the motion to withdraw, ...