IN THE INTEREST OF CHILD v. <<

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Court of Appeals of Texas, Tyler.

IN THE INTEREST OF C.L.S., A CHILD

NO. 12-17-00059-CV

Decided: June 30, 2017

Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

A.W. and C.S. appeal the termination of their parental rights. Both parents' counsel filed a brief in compliance with Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S. Ct. 1396, 18 L. Ed. 2d 493 (1967), and Gainous v. State, 436 S.W.2d 137 (Tex. Crim. App. 1969). We affirm.

BACKGROUND

A.W. is the mother, and C.S. is the father of C.L.S. On February 26, 2016, the Department of Family and Protective Services (the Department) filed an original petition for protection of C.L.S., for conservatorship, and for termination of A.W.'s and C.S.'s parental rights. The Department was appointed temporary managing conservator of the child, and both parents were appointed temporary possessory conservators with limited rights and duties.

At the conclusion of the trial on the merits, the trial court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that A.W. had engaged in one or more of the acts or omissions necessary to support termination of her parental rights under subsections (M), (N), (O), (P), and (R) of Texas Family Code Section 161.001(b)(1). The trial court also found that termination of the parent-child relationship between A.W. and C.L.S. is in the child's best interest. Based on these findings, the trial court ordered that the parent-child relationship between A.W. and C.L.S. be terminated.

Further, the trial court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that C.S. had engaged in one or more of the acts or omissions necessary to support termination of his parental rights under subsections (D), (E), (M), and (N) of Texas Family Code Section 161.001(b)(1). The trial court also found that termination of the parent-child relationship between C.S. and C.L.S. is in the child's best interest. Based on these findings, the trial court ordered that the parent-child relationship between C.S. and C.L.S. be terminated. This appeal followed.

ANALYSIS PURSUANT TO ANDERS V. CALIFORNIA

A.W.'s and C.S.'s counsels filed briefs in compliance with Anders, stating that each counsel has diligently reviewed the appellate record and is of the opinion that the record reflects no reversible error and that there is no error upon which an appeal can be predicated. This court has previously held that Anders procedures apply in parental rights termination cases when the Department has moved for termination. See In re K.S.M., 61 S.W.3d 632, 634 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2001, no pet.). In compliance with Anders, counsels' briefs present a professional evaluation of the record demonstrating why there are no reversible grounds on appeal, and referencing any grounds that might arguably support the appeals. See Anders, 386 U.S. at 744, 87 S. Ct. at 1400; Mays v. State, 904 S.W.2d 920, 922-23 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1995, no pet.).

In our duties as a reviewing court, we must conduct an independent evaluation of the record to determine whether counsels are correct in determining that the appeals are frivolous. See Stafford v. State, 813 S.W.2d 503, 511 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991); Mays, 904 S.W.2d at 923. We have carefully reviewed the appellate record and counsels' briefs. We find nothing in the record that might arguably support the appeals.1 See Taylor v. Tex. Dep't of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 160 S.W.3d 641, 646–47 (Tex. App.—Austin 2005, pet. denied).

DISPOSITION

We agree with A.W.'s and C.S.'s counsels that the appeals are wholly frivolous. However, we deny C.S.'s counsel's request to withdraw. See In re P.M., No. 15-0171, 2016 WL 1274748, at *3 (Tex. Apr. 1, 2016). In In re P.M., the Texas Supreme Court held that the right to counsel in suits seeking the termination of parental rights extends to “all proceedings in [the Texas Supreme Court], including the filing of a petition for review.” Id. at *3. Therefore, counsel's obligations to C.S. have not yet been discharged. See id. In accordance with In re P.M., counsel for A.W. has not moved to withdraw. If A.W. and C.S., after consulting with their counsels, desire to file a petition for review, counsels should timely file with the Texas Supreme Court “a petition for review that satisfies the standards for an Anders brief.” See id.; see also A.C. v. Tex. Dep't of Family & Protective Servs., No. 03-16-00543-CV, 2016 WL 5874880, at *1 n.2 (Tex. App.—Austin Oct. 5, 2016, no pet.) (mem.op.). Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's judgment. See TEX. R. APP. P. 43.2.

JUDGMENT

THIS CAUSE came to be heard on the appellate record and briefs filed herein, and the same being considered, it is the opinion of this court that there was no error in the judgment.

It is therefore ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that the judgment of the court below be in all things affirmed, and that this decision be certified to the court below for observance.

FOOTNOTES

1.   In compliance with Kelly v. State, counsels for A.W. and C.S. certified that they provided A.W. and C.S. with a copy of counsels' briefs, informed them of their right to file a pro se response, and took concrete measures to facilitate their review of the appellate record. 436 S.W.3d 313, 319 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). A.W. and C.S. were given time to file their own briefs, but the time for filing such briefs has expired and no pro se briefs have been filed.

By per curiam opinion.