Court Cases By State - Arkansas

Court Cases by Arkansas

Milam v. Dept. of Human Servs.
2006 App. LEXIS 667 ( App. 2006)

Child has fetal alcohol syndrome and several other problems. She had high needs due to eating and behavior problems. She was a very small, picky eater with no appetite and she had a temper, fits, and needed a lot of structure, consistency and routine. She should not be left unattended for long periods of time. Her parent had alcohol issues and parent’s rights were terminated because parent wouldn’t be able to care for a high needs child. Many services were provided to mother including budgeting assistance, homemaking, counseling referrals, substance abuse evaluation referrals, referrals for substance abuse treatment, transportation, fetal alcohol syndrome training, referral for psychological evaluation, training to learn child’s schedule, feeding and mealtime plans. 

Miller v. State
942 S.W. 2d 825, 328 Ark. 121 (1997)

Miller was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

Prior to trial the defense filed a motion for the appointment of an expert to conduct an examination for possible brain damage due to prenatal alcohol exposure. Apparently the questions at issue were (a) Miller's competence to stand trial, and (b) whether he had the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his actions to the requirements of the law. This motion was based the recommendation of Miller's psychiatrist. The motion was granted, and the examination was to be provided at the state hospital "as determined by" Miller's psychiatrist. 942 S.W. 2d at 827.

The neurological assessment indicated that:

"Taken together, available data suggest relatively mild to moderate cortical dysfunction that is primarily evidenced through deficits on memory-based tasks and tasks involving ongoing attention and concentration. At the same time, he is over average intelligence, and he manifests some real strengths on complex cognitive tasks. He does display the kind of weakness on tasks requiring executive functions that is sometimes associated with poor impulse control. I find no evidence to suggest that Mr. Miller suffers from residuals from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, since he does not display the intellectual deficits that are almost invariably associated with that syndrome."

942 S.W. 2d at 828. Some additional but unidentified tests on Miller "were interpreted as being normal." This assessment appears to conclude that Miller did not have FAS because a low IQ is "almost invariably" associated with FAS. That is incorrect; individuals with FAS who have an average IQ are not uncommon.

In response to this diagnosis, defense counsel asked for a continuance to obtain an out of state neuropsychologist, on the ground that it was difficult to obtain a competent neuropsychologist in Arkansas. That motion was denied. 942 S.W. 2d at 828. (Note here the case from Mississippi holding that failure to inquire into FAS was not ineffective assistance of counsel because there was no showing that a competent expert on FAS existed in the state of Mississippi).