FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TENTH DIVISION [NO.
60JV-18-85] HONORABLE JOYCE WILLIAMS WARREN, JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
Beaird appeals a Pulaski County Circuit Court order
terminating her parental rights to her infant son,
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) (2018), Beaird's
counsel has filed a motion to be relieved as counsel and a
no-merit brief asserting that there are no issues of arguable
merit to support an appeal. The clerk of our court sent
copies of the brief and the motion to withdraw to Beaird
informing her of her right to file pro se points for reversal
pursuant to Rule 6-9(i)(3); she has not done so.
brief contains an abstract and addendum of the proceedings
below and states that the only ruling adverse to Beaird was
the termination of her parental rights. Counsel asserts that
there was sufficient evidence to support the termination.
See Linker-Flores, supra; Ark. Sup. Ct. R.
6-9(i). We agree that there are no issues of arguable merit
on which to base an appeal. We provide the following summary
of facts and procedural history in support of our conclusion.
gave birth to D.B. in January 2018. At the time of delivery,
Beaird tested positive for amphetamines. D.B.'s urine was
negative, but a subsequent meconium test was positive for
illegal substances. Beaird denied drug usage but had
outbursts at the hospital and would not cooperate with
hospital staff. The hospital contacted the Arkansas
Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS attempted to set up a
team decision-making meeting with Beaird at the hospital, but
she refused to cooperate. The DHS caseworker also attempted
several times to contact the child's father, Clifton
Beaird,  but was unable to do so. DHS then
exercised a seventy-two-hour hold on newborn D.B. and
initiated a dependency-neglect proceeding in the circuit
probable-cause hearing, the court was informed of
Beaird's previous contact with DHS. Beaird had been
involved with DHS on four separate occasions. Two of those
occurrences took place in 2007 and 2015 and involved
allegations of newborns testing positive for illegal
substances. Both of those cases resulted in the termination
of her parental rights.
adjudication hearing, Beaird stipulated that D.B.'s
dependency-neglect was based on neglect (Garrett's law)
and parental unfitness by the mother, because the juvenile
tested positive for amphetamines and methamphetamine at the
time of his birth. The trial court adjudicated D.B.
dependent-neglected on the basis of this stipulation and the
results of the child's meconium test, which were positive
for illegal substances. Of significance, the court found, on
the basis of the mother's testimony at the hearing, that
she was not being honest with the court and was not credible
when she testified about her previous drug usage.
Nevertheless, the court set the goal as reunification and
directed DHS to provide reunification services to Beaird.
the court conducted additional hearings and made findings
concerning Beaird's compliance with the case plan and
court orders. In particular, the court found that DHS had
provided appropriate services but found that Beaird had only
partially complied. Despite the provision of appropriate
services, Beaird had tested positive on a drug screen, had
possibly tampered with the results of other drug screens, had
not entered or completed inpatient substance-abuse treatment,
and had not submitted to a hair-shaft drug test or other drug
screens when directed by DHS. Additionally, the court noted
that Beaird was no longer employed and had stopped going to
counseling for a time. While she had visited with the
juvenile, she exhibited inappropriate behavior during some of
the visits. The court found that she had not
demonstrated any progress toward the goals of the case plan
and had made minimal progress toward alleviating or
mitigating the causes of the child's removal.
September 2018, DHS and the attorney ad litem (AAL) filed a
joint petition for termination of parental rights alleging
three grounds for termination: (1) subsequent other factors;
(2) aggravated circumstances-little likelihood of successful
reunification; and (3) prior involuntary termination. The
court conducted a termination hearing in January 2019. After
the hearing, the trial court entered an order terminating
Beaird's parental rights on two statutory grounds for
termination: subsequent other factors and prior involuntary
termination. The court further found that it was in
D.B.'s best interest to terminate Beaird's parental
rights, noting that D.B. had been in DHS custody for all but
two days of his life, that Beaird had not done the things
that would be necessary for her to be a fit parent and have
the child returned to her, and that D.B. is adoptable.
review termination-of-parental-rights orders de novo but will
not reverse the trial court's findings of fact unless
they are clearly erroneous. Harjo v. Ark. Dep't of
Human Servs., 2018 Ark.App. 268, 548 S.W.3d 865. A
finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence
to support it, the appellate court is left on the entire
evidence with the firm conviction that a mistake has been
made. Id. We must defer to the superior position of
the trial court to weigh the credibility of the witnesses.
Ewasiuk v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2018
Ark.App. 59, 540 S.W.3d 318. On appellate review, this court
gives a high degree of deference to the trial court, which is
in a far superior position to observe the parties before it.
Id. Termination of parental rights is an extreme
remedy and in derogation of the natural rights of parents,
but parental rights will not be enforced to the detriment or
destruction of the health and well-being of the child.
to Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-341(b)(3) (Supp.
2017), an order forever terminating parental rights shall be
based on a finding by clear and convincing evidence that
there are one or more statutory grounds. Counsel states in
her no-merit brief that any argument challenging the
statutory grounds for termination would be wholly frivolous
because there was sufficient evidence to support the trial
court's finding of aggravated circumstances-little
likelihood for successful reunification. While that statutory
ground was pled in the petition, the trial court did not make
a specific finding on the aggravated-circumstances ground
cited by counsel. Instead, the trial court made findings as
to the two other statutory grounds pled in the petition:
subsequent other factors (Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a)) and previous involuntary
termination (Ark. Code Ann. §
9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ix)(a)(4)). We conclude,
however, that counsel's error is not fatal in this case.
termination-of-parental-rights cases, we must complete a de
novo review of the record, and a failure of counsel to list
and discuss all adverse rulings will not necessarily result
in automatic rebriefing. See Sartin v. State, 2010
Ark. 16, 362 S.W.3d 877; Houseman v. Ark. Dep't of
Human Servs., 2016 Ark.App. 227, 491 S.W.3d 153
(affirming without rebriefing). But see Kloss v. Ark.
Dep't of Human Servs., 2019 Ark.App. 121;
Bentley v. Ark. Dep't of Human Servs., 2018
Ark.App. 125 (rebriefing ordered). Having completed our de
novo review, we conclude that the trial court was not clearly
erroneous in its conclusion that statutory grounds for
termination existed. Here, it is undisputed that on two
separate occasions, Beaird's parental rights to two other
children were involuntarily terminated. Thus, the
prior-involuntary-termination ground was conclusively
satisfied. Because only one ...