Thursday, December 8, 2011

Court upholds termination of soldier’s parental rights - Arkansas

By John Lyon

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Court of Appeals today upheld the state Department of Human Services’ decision to terminate the parental rights of an Arkansas man who was serving in the Army in Iraq when his wife’s boyfriend severely injured his 5-month-old son.

A six-judge panel of the court ruled 5-1 that Edward Glover’s appeal of the ruling was without merit. The dissenting judge said the appeal did have merit because Pulaski County circuit judges exceeded their authority in requiring Glover to “jump through various hoops” to retain custody of his son even though he had done nothing wrong.

According to the judges’ opinions, it was discovered in April 2009 that Glover’s son had been the victim of severe abuse. The boy had bruising to his scalp and around his eyes, retinal hemorrhages, perforation of his stomach, a liver contusion, a possible lung contusion, three rib fractures and burns in several places.

Glover was serving in Iraq at the time. DHS and the circuit court determined that the abuser was Glover’s wife’s lover and that Glover’s wife knew that her boyfriend had a history of domestic violence but chose to discount it. The parental rights of Glover’s wife were terminated.

Glover obtained emergency leave and returned to Arkansas in May 2009. He attended a series of hearings, presided over by a series of judges, and was given a long list of orders to comply with, including obtaining a psychological examination, attending parenting classes, attending anger-management classes and submitting to DNA tests and random drug and alcohol screenings, among other things.

Glover’s parental rights were terminated in February of this year for failing to comply with the orders. His lawyer filed a “no merit” appeal — meaning the lawyer believed the appeal was without merit but filed it at Glover’s insistence — and asked to be allowed to withdraw from the case.

Today, the Court of Appeals granted the lawyer’s request and affirmed the order terminating Glover’s parental rights, finding that the appeal was “wholly without merit.”

Judge John Pittman wrote the majority opinion, with Judges Robert Gladwin, John Robbins, Robin Wynne and David Glover concurring.

Judge Josephine Hart wrote in the dissent that the circuit judges had no authority to impose the requirements on Glover.

“The reason (for the judges’ orders) was the criminal battery of the child by a person who was engaged in an adulterous relationship with the child’s mother while Mr. Glover was deployed more than 4,000 miles away in the armed forces of his country,” Hart wrote.

Pittman said in the majority opinion that “the dissenting judge’s passionate outrage is noteworthy,” but he said the issues she raised were not raised in any of the circuit court hearings and could not be considered for the first time on appeal.


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