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In re G.L.R.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

May 3, 2017


         On Appeal from the 72nd District Court Crosby County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016-7870, Honorable Kara L. Darnell, Presiding

          Before QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.



         Appellant B.M., [1] the alleged father of G.L.R., appeals the trial court's order terminating his right to the child.[2] Appellee is the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. B.M.'s court-appointed appellate counsel has filed an Anders brief concluding the appeal is frivolous.[3] We will affirm the trial court's order.

         In her brief, counsel states she diligently searched the record and researched the applicable law, and in her professional opinion the appeal is frivolous because the record shows no reversible error. Porter v. Tex. Dep't of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 105 S.W.3d 52, 56 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.) ("[W]hen appointed counsel represents an indigent client in a parental-termination appeal and concludes that there are no non-frivolous issues for appeal, counsel may file an Anders-type brief"); In re L.J., No. 07-14-00319-CV, 2015 Tex.App. LEXIS 427, at *3 (Tex. App.-Amarillo Jan. 15, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.) (noting same). The brief contains an analysis of potential issues with an explanation why counsel believes each is meritless. Counsel has demonstrated she has complied with the requirements of Anders by providing a copy of the brief and appellate record to B.M. and notifying him of his right to file a pro se response should he desire. Id. See also Kelly v. State, 436 S.W.3d 313 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014); In re L.V., No. 07-15-00315-CV, 2015 Tex.App. LEXIS 11607 (Tex. App.-Amarillo Nov. 9, 2015, per curiam order). The Department filed a short response to counsel's Anders brief. It does not express disagreement with the analysis counsel presents in her Anders brief. B.M. filed a pro se response to the Anders brief, in which he discusses the changes in his life since trial of the case. He attaches documents indicating third parties recognize his current stability and responsibility. While the law does not permit an appellate court, reviewing a final judgment, to set aside the trial court's judgment of termination based on a party's post-judgment progress, we note that B.M.'s recent improvements are commendable and to be encouraged.

         Pursuant to our obligations when appointed counsel files an Anders brief, we have reviewed the appellate record brought forward. See In re P.M., No. 15-0171, 2016 Tex. LEXIS 236, at *8 n.10 (Tex. Apr. 1, 2016) (per curiam) (application of Anders procedures in parental-rights termination cases) (citing In re D.A.S., 973 S.W.2d 296, 297 (Tex. 1998)); In re A.W.T., 61 S.W.3d 87, 88-89 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2001, no pet.) (per curiam) (termination case); see also In re Schulman, 252 S.W.3d at 407; Stafford v. State, 813 S.W.2d 503, 510 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991); High v. State, 573 S.W.2d 807 (Tex. Crim. App. 1978). After reviewing the record, the Anders brief, and B.M.'s response we agree with counsel there are no plausible grounds for reversal.

         We therefore affirm the trial court's judgment terminating B.M.'s rights as an alleged father.[4]



[1] To protect the privacy of the child and parent, we refer to each by their initials. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 109.002(d) (West 2014); Tex.R.App.P. 9.8(b).

[2] See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 161.002(b) (West Supp. 2016). The parental rights of the child's mother were terminated in the same trial court proceeding, based on her execution of an affidavit of relinquishment. She has not appealed the judgment of termination. The record shows G.L.R. was removed from his mother's care in the hospital on his birth because of methamphetamine in his system.

[3] Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967).

[4] Counsel did not file a motion to withdraw from her representation of B.M. We have disapproved of this procedure. See In re X.H., No. 07-16-00410-CV, 2017 Tex.App. LEXIS 1011, at *3 n.4 (Tex. App.-Amarillo Feb. 6, 2017, per curiam order). Because we agree with counsel that the record presents no arguable ground for reversal, and as counsel's brief points to no other ground authorizing withdrawal, we will not require her now to file a motion to withdraw. See In re P.M., 2016 Tex. LEXIS 236, at *8 ("[A]n Anders motion to withdraw brought in the court of appeals, in the absence of additional grounds for withdrawal, may be premature"). Rather, counsel is ...

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