FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TENTH DIVISION [NO.
60JV-17-928], HONORABLE JOYCE WILLIAMS WARREN, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Commission for Parent Counsel, for
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for
M. BROWN, Judge
Appellant Stormy Gipson appeals from the order of the Pulaski
County Circuit Court terminating her parental rights to her
children, B.V. and H.B. On appeal, appellant argues that
the circuit court
abused its discretion when it denied her motion for
continuance at the termination hearing. We affirm.
August 21, 2017, the Arkansas Department of Human Services
(DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody and
dependency-neglect. Attached to the petition was the
affidavit of the DHS caseworker, which stated that on August
18, the child-abuse hotline received a report alleging that
appellant was going to jail following a "drug bust"
in the home. Sergeant Travis Cummings confirmed that
appellant was being charged with possession of
methamphetamine with purpose to deliver, simultaneous
possession of drugs and guns, maintaining a drug premises,
felony possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony child
endangerment. Appellant admitted to the caseworker that she
had been selling drugs out of the home in the presence of her
minor children. Appellant tested positive for THC,
methamphetamine, and amphetamine. Appellant expressed a
desire for her children to be placed in the care of her
mother, Joanne Gipson, who also resided in the home; however,
Joanne also tested positive for methamphetamine and
amphetamine. An emergency order was entered that same day
placing the children in the custody of DHS. A probable-cause
order was entered the following day continuing the children
in the legal custody of DHS.
September 7, 2017, the circuit court adjudicated B.V. and
H.B. dependent-neglected due to neglect and parental
unfitness by appellant. After holding two review hearings and
a permanency-planning hearing, the circuit court changed the
case goal to adoption and authorized DHS to file a petition
to terminate parental rights. On August 27, 2018, DHS filed
the termination petition.
termination hearing was scheduled for October 17, 2018. On
October 11, DHS requested a continuance because H.B.s father
had not been properly served with the termination petition.
In granting the motion, the circuit court noted that B.V.s
putative father had also not been properly served with
notice. The termination hearing was rescheduled for November
November 29, the termination hearing was again continued
until January 17, 2019, as a result of the courts finding
that all parties had still not been properly served with the
notices to which they were entitled, specifically noting that
the warning order for B.V.s putative father was defective.
termination hearing held on January 17, 2019, appellants
counsel requested a continuance because appellant had been
extradited to Texas on a parole violation and could not
provide testimony via telephone as "Texas has no
interstate phone system to allow testimony by inmates."
Counsel argued that appellant "deserves a right to put
on her defense"; however, he acknowledged that although
the continuance request was for three ...