FROM THE MILLER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 46JV-18-11]
HONORABLE KIRK JOHNSON, JUDGE.
Fisk, for appellant.
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE.
Howard appeals the Miller County Circuit Court's decision
to terminate her parental rights to her child, K.H.
(12/25/06). Howard's counsel has filed a motion to
withdraw and a no-merit brief pursuant to our rules and
caselaw, stating that there are no meritorious grounds to
support an appeal. Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 6-9 (2015);
Linker-Flores v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 359
Ark. 131, 194 S.W.3d 739 (2004).
court clerk mailed a certified copy of counsel's motion
and brief to Howard's last-known address informing her of
her right to file pro se points for reversal, and Howard has
filed pro se points. The Arkansas Department of Human
Services ("Department") and the attorney ad litem
have jointly responded to Howard's pro se points pursuant
to Rule 6- 9(i)(5). We affirm the court's decision to
terminate Howard's parental rights to K.H. and grant
counsel's motion to withdraw.
review termination-of-parental rights cases de novo.
Cheney v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2012
Ark.App. 209, 396 S.W.3d 272. An order terminating parental
rights must be based on a finding by clear and convincing
evidence that the termination is in the children's best
interest. Id. The circuit court must consider the
likelihood that the children will be adopted if the
parent's rights are terminated and the potential harm
that could be caused if the children are returned to a
parent. Harper v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs.,
2011 Ark.App. 280, 378 S.W.3d 884. The circuit court must
also find that one of the grounds stated in the termination
statute is satisfied. Id. Clear and convincing
evidence is that degree of proof that will produce in the
fact-finder a firm conviction that the allegation has been
established. Pratt v. Ark. Dep't of Human
Servs., 2012 Ark.App. 399, 413 S.W.3d 261. When the
burden of proving a disputed fact is by clear and convincing
evidence, we ask whether the circuit court's finding on
the disputed fact is clearly erroneous. Id. A
finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence
to support it, we are left with a definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been made. Id.
dependency-neglect cases, if, after studying the record and
researching the law, appellant's counsel determines that
the appellant has no meritorious basis for appeal, then
counsel may file a no-merit petition and move to withdraw.
Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 6-9(i)(1). The petition must include an
argument section that lists all adverse rulings that the
parent received at the circuit court level and explain why
each adverse ruling is not a meritorious ground for reversal.
Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 6-9(i)(1)(A). The petition must also include
an abstract and addendum containing all rulings adverse to
the appealing parent that were made during the hearing from
which the order on appeal arose. Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 6–
Department alleged two statutory grounds that against
Howard-the "other factors" ground, and the
"aggravated circumstances" ground. The statutory
ground "other factors" sets forth that
other factors or issues arose subsequent to the filing of the
original petition for dependency-neglect that demonstrate
that placement of the juvenile in the custody of the parent
is contrary to the juvenile's health, safety, or welfare
and that, despite the offer of appropriate family services,
the parent has manifested the incapacity or indifference to
remedy the subsequent issues or factors or rehabilitate the
parent's circumstances that prevent the placement of the
juvenile in the custody of the parent.
Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a)
Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ix)(a)(3)
provides as a ground that the parent is found by a court of
competent jurisdiction to have subjected any juvenile to
aggravated circumstances, which means, among other things,
that a determination has been or is made by a judge that
there is little likelihood that services to the family will
result in successful reunification.
attorney argues that there would be no merit in challenging
the sufficiency of the statutory grounds or the court's
circuit court considered the following testimony, exhibits,
and statements of the parties in deciding to terminate
Howard's parental rights. On January 26, 2018, the
Department filed a petition for dependency- neglect based on
sexual abuse by a man over thirty years old. Two days earlier,
Howard called the fire department, asking to drop off her
child who had tried to kill her by putting a pill in her
drink that rendered her unconscious for eleven hours. Howard
explained that the girl had been sexually abused at
"granny's home." Granny was a babysitter and
not a family member. K.H. said Howard had never sexually
abused her but that she had been physically abused by her
mother. K.H. stated that she loves her mother, and she feels
safe at her mom's house but that she wanted to be in
Department custody for a few weeks. At the time of removal,