FROM THE HEMPSTEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 29JV-16-179]
HONORABLE RANDY WRIGHT, JUDGE
Montgomery & Burke, by: Wm. Blake Montgomery and Jim A.
Burke, for appellant.
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, for minor
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE
Brianna Jones appeals an order by the Hempstead County
Circuit Court terminating her parental rights to her
daughters, S.B. and K.J. On appeal, Jones argues that the
circuit court erred in terminating her parental rights
because the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)
failed to meet its burden of proof. We affirm.
September 6, 2016, the juveniles were removed from the
physical and legal custody of Jones after their nine-day-old
sibling, A.J., suffered an unexplained cranial fracture and
died. K.J. had bug bites all over her arms, face, and legs,
and her feet were blackened because she had no shoes. The
home was filthy with piles of dirt, debris, unclean dishes,
old food, urine and dog feces, condom packages, and trash.
Tobacco, open chemicals, and firearms were all within the
children's reach. DHS assumed emergency custody over then
four-year-old S.B. and two-year-old K.J. Jones had an
extensive history with DHS, including a true finding for
environmental neglect in 2012 and a previous
dependency-neglect case from 2013-2015.
November 3, 2016, the circuit court adjudicated S.B. and K.J.
dependent-neglected on the basis of Jones's stipulation
to neglect and parental unfitness. The circuit court found
Jones's "failure to provide a shelter that does not
pose a risk or safety hazard to the juveniles" was a
basis for its decision. The goal of the case was set as
reunification, and Jones was ordered to participate in
parenting classes, submit to random drug screens, and
participate in counseling and homemaking services.
December 8, 2016 hearing, the circuit court found Jones in
partial compliance with the case plan in that she had been
visiting the children and her drug screens were negative, but
she had not yet completed counseling. The court also ordered
Jones to undergo a psychological assessment. Dr. Betty Feir
conducted the psychological evaluation of Jones and concluded
that Jones had possible borderline personality and bipolar
disorders, and had long-standing problems with DHS. Jones was
also diagnosed by a counselor "with adjustment disorder,
with mixed anxiety and depressed mood." Dr. Feir
recommended that Jones's parental rights be terminated
because she did not appear to be capable of parenting and did
not have the emotional or mental capacity to safely care for
review order was entered on February 13, 2017, after the
court held a hearing on February 9. The circuit court found
Jones had been visiting with the children, had tested
negative on drug screens, had participated in individual
counseling, and had completed the psychological evaluation.
However, the cleanliness of Jones's home remained an
issue, and the court ordered that unsupervised visits with
the children could not begin until Jones demonstrated that
she could maintain a safe, clean, and appropriate home for
herself and her children.
review hearing was held on May 11, 2017, and the court found
that Jones had continued to abuse illegal substances and had
not participated in any form of substance-abuse treatment.
Jones also admitted having been involved in a romantic
relationship with a man with whom she had a history of
abusing drugs and alcohol, and who was, at the time of the
hearing, being detained in the Hempstead County jail.
review hearing on July 20, 2017, the court found that Jones
had complied with the case plan in that she had completed a
psychological evaluation, drug assessment, parenting classes,
inpatient drug treatment, submitted to random drug screens,
participated in home-maker services and counseling, and had
visited the children regularly. The court also noted that
Jones's home had recently been in a more appropriate
condition for the children's habitation. Specifically,
the court wrote that it "would like to see the mother
sustain her sobriety and the appropriateness of her
home burned down the next month, and on August 17, Jones
tested positive for amphetamines, methamphetamine, and
cocaine. After her home burned, Jones stayed with her
September 14, 2017, the court held a permanency-planning
hearing, just over a year after the children's removal
from Jones's home. The court found that while Jones had
completed some services, she had also "tested positive
for illegal substances throughout much of the case" and
"recently tested positive for illegal substances
again." In the months that followed, Jones continued to
decline. She again tested positive for amphetamine and
methamphetamine on December 6, 2017, and three weeks
later--on December 27, tested positive for amphetamine. In a
report filed on January 11, 2018, the court-appointed special
advocate stated that she had ...