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Williams v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

May 22, 2019

RASHAD WILLIAMS APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILD APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 18JV-16-196] HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR., JUDGE

          Leah Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.

          Callie Corbyn, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.

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

          RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE

         Rashad Williams appeals the Crittenden County Circuit Court order terminating his parental rights to his son, L.C. (born in November 2013). On appeal, Williams argues that termination was clearly erroneous due to the denial of due process and the lack of evidence to support the circuit court's best-interest finding. We affirm.

         On October 26, 2016, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect of L.C. and his three half siblings. The petition listed Lola Conner[1] as L.C.'s mother and Williams as L.C.'s father. The petition further indicated that Williams was incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). The petition also included the fathers of L.C.'s half siblings. In the affidavit attached to the petition, DHS alleged that Conner had stabbed one of L.C.'s half siblings twenty times. On October 28, 2016, the circuit court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody.

         On November 1, the court entered a probable-cause order. The court ordered the parties to comply with the case plan, watch "The Clock is Ticking", complete parenting classes, and obtain stable housing and employment.

         On February 21, 2017, the court adjudicated L.C. dependent-neglected due to Conner's physical abuse of a child, and the court also found aggravated circumstances. The court set concurrent goals of adoption and relative placement.

         On June 6, DHS filed a petition to terminate Williams's and Conner's parental rights. On June 20, the court entered a review order. The court noted that L.C.'s paternal grandmother, Felicia Linell, had inquired about placement of L.C. but that DHS had recommended placing L.C. with his half siblings.

         On July 10, Williams filed a "written answer to the complaint or a motion under Rule 12 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure." In the answer, Williams denied harming L.C. and asked the court to temporarily transfer his parental rights to his mother. He also stated that he wanted to attend the termination hearing.

         On August 15, the court entered a permanency-planning order. The court noted that DHS was completing a packet for Linell through the Interstate Compact Placement of Children (ICPC) in Texas and that DHS would notify the court of the results.

          On January 19, 2018, the court entered an order terminating Conner's parental rights; however, the court "dismissed" Williams. The court made a handwritten note that Williams "needed conflict counsel."

         On July 9, the court entered a permanency-planning order. The court found that placement of L.C. with Williams was contrary to the child's best interest because Williams remained incarcerated. The court authorized DHS to file a petition for termination of Williams's parental rights, and ...


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