FROM THE POPE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 58JV-18-68],
HONORABLE KENNETH D. COKER, JR., JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
S. HIXSON, Judge
Appellant Leslie McDaniel appeals from the termination of her
parental rights to her son, L.G., who was born on May 23,
2018. Pursuant to Linker-Flores v.
Arkansas Department of Human Services, 359 Ark. 131, 194
S.W.3d 739 (2004), and Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 6-9(i),
Leslies counsel has filed a no-merit brief and motion to
withdraw, asserting that there are no issues of arguable
merit to support an appeal and that she should be relieved as
counsel. A copy of Leslies counsels brief and motion was
mailed to Leslie, and after being informed of her right to
file pro se points, Leslie declined to file any points. We
affirm and grant appellants counsels motion to withdraw.
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo.
Dinkins v. Ark. Dept of Human Servs., 344 Ark. 207,
40 S.W.3d 286 (2001). At least one statutory ground must
exist, in addition to a finding that it is in the childs
best interest to terminate parental rights; these must be
proved by clear and convincing evidence. Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3) (Repl. 2017); Mitchell v. Ark. Dept of
Human Servs., 2013 Ark.App. 715, 430 S.W.3d 851. Clear
and convincing evidence is that degree of proof that will
produce in the fact-finder a firm conviction as to the
allegation sought to be established. Gray v. Ark. Dept
of Human Servs., 2013 Ark.App. 24, 2013 WL 245718. The
appellate inquiry is whether the trial courts finding that
the disputed fact was proved by clear and convincing evidence
is clearly erroneous. J.T. v. Ark. Dept of Human
Servs., 329 Ark. 243, 947 S.W.2d 761 (1997). A finding
is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to
support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is
left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has
been made. Yarborough v. Ark. Dept of Human Servs.,
96 Ark.App. 247, 240 S.W.3d 626 (2006).
L.G. was born, his meconium tested positive for
methamphetamine. Leslie admitted using methamphetamine
earlier that week. An Arkansas Department of Human Services
(DHS) family-service worker informed Leslie that a home study
would be necessary to ensure the babys safety before the
baby could be placed in her custody. Leslie gave the
family-service worker an address and phone number and left
the hospital. DHS workers repeatedly attempted to make
contact with Leslie at her home, but they could never get
anyone to answer the door. Phone calls to Leslie went
unanswered. L.G. was scheduled to be discharged from the
hospital eight days after his birth, on May 31, 2018. On that
day, a DHS worker went to Leslies house
and saw three cars parked in the driveway. A pit bull was
guarding the porch and barking viciously at the worker. An
unidentified person quickly closed the front door. The DHS
worker attempted to reach Leslie by phone but got no answer.
DHS took an emergency hold of L.G. upon his release from the
hospital and notified Leslie via text message.
June 4, 2018, DHS filed a motion for emergency custody, and
on the same day the trial court entered an ex parte order for
emergency custody. A probable-cause order was entered on June
11, 2018. In the probable-cause order, Leslie was allowed
reasonable visitation with L.G. contingent upon her
submitting to a drug screen and not appearing under the
influence of drugs or alcohol. Leslie was ordered to submit
to random drug screens, complete parenting classes, maintain
stable housing and employment, submit to a psychological
evaluation, and submit to a drug-and-alcohol assessment and
complete all recommendations.
trial court entered an adjudication order on July 13, 2018.
The trial court found L.G. dependent-neglected because he was
at serious risk of harm due to inadequate supervision and his
mothers drug use. The goal of the case was reunification.
review hearing, at which Leslie did not appear, was held on
September 17, 2018. At that hearing, the trial court
considered a written motion by DHS to terminate reunification
services. On September 21, 2018, the trial court entered a
review order and an order terminating reunification services.
In these orders, the trial court suspended Leslies
visitation and relieved DHS from providing services to
Leslie. The trial court found by clear and convincing
evidence that it was in L.G.s best interest to terminate
reunification services because Leslie had abandoned the child
and there was little likelihood that services to Leslie would
result in successful reunification.
permanency-planning order entered on October 15, 2018, the
trial court found that the goal of the case shall be
termination of parental rights and adoption. DHS filed a
petition to terminate Leslies parental rights on ...