[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT
[NO. 66FJV-17-490], HONORABLE ANNIE HENDRICKS, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for
GRUBER, Chief Judge
Counsel for Amber Westbrook brings this no-merit appeal from
the Sebastian County Circuit Court’s order entered on
December 4, 2018, terminating her parental rights to SW, born
August 2, 2017. 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), her
counsel has filed a no-merit brief setting forth all adverse
rulings from the termination hearing and asserting that there
are no issues that would support a meritorious appeal.
Counsel has also filed a motion asking to be relieved. The
clerk of this court sent a copy of the brief and motion to be
relieved to appellant, informing her that she had the right
to file pro se points for reversal under Arkansas Supreme
Court Rule 6-9(i)(3), which she has filed. We grant counsel’s
motion to withdraw and affirm the order terminating
appellant’s parental rights.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) removed S.W. from
appellant’s custody on November 22, 2017, after appellant had
been arrested on felony warrants, and S.W. was discovered to
have unexplained bruises on his face and head. After being
interviewed upon her arrest, appellant agreed to submit to a
drug test, which was positive for methamphetamine,
amphetamines, and opiates. S.W. was adjudicated
dependent-neglected in January 2018 due to parental
unfitness, failure to protect, and inadequate supervision.
review order entered on May 22, 2018, the court found that
appellant had been arrested on March 18, 2018, for possession
of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled
substance and that she had admitted having used drugs before
her arrest. She tested positive for THC, amphetamines, and
MDMA on April 25, 2018, during her court appearance in the
criminal case and was sent to jail. On August 9, 2018,
appellant was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to
120 months’ imprisonment.
filed a petition for termination of parental rights on August
24, 2018, and the circuit court granted the petition in an
order entered on December 4, 2018, finding that DHS had
proved three grounds by clear and convincing evidence and
that termination was in the child’s best interest.
review termination-of-parental-rights cases de novo. Hune
v. Ark. Dep’t of Human Servs., 2010 Ark.App. 543, 2010
WL 2612681. At least one statutory ground must exist, in
addition to a finding that it is in the children’s best
interest to terminate parental rights. Ark. Code Ann. �
9-27-341 (Supp. 2017); Kohlman v. Ark. Dep’t of Human
Servs., 2018 Ark.App. 164, 544 S.W.3d 595. A
best-interest finding under the Arkansas Juvenile Code must
include consideration of two factors, the likelihood of
adoption and potential harm.
Ark. Code Ann. � 9-27-341(b)(3)(A)(i) & (ii). However,
adoptability is not an essential element of proof.
McDaniel v. Ark. Dep’t of Human Servs., 2013
Ark.App. 263, at 4, 2013 WL 1776479. The statute does not
require any "magic words" or a specific quantum of
evidence regarding a child’s adoptability but simply provides
that the circuit court consider the likelihood that the child
will be adopted in making its best-interest determination.
Smith v. Ark. Dep’t of Human Servs., 2013 Ark.App.
753, at 7, 431 S.W.3d 364, 368-69. Potential harm must be