Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
IN THE INTEREST OF N.M. AND K.M., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 140th District Court Lubbock County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2014-513, 365, Honorable Jim Bob Darnell,
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
Quinn Chief Justice
and G.G. appeal the order terminating their parental rights
to N.M. and K.M. Initially, their appellate counsel filed an
Anders brief; however, this court identified a
potential arguable issue and abated the matter back to the
trial court for appointment of counsel and briefing.
Appellant's counsel has filed an appellate brief wherein
a single issue has been raised. That issue concerns the
district court's error in failing to make additional
findings on the record regarding the parents' termination
and thereby denying them de novo review. We affirm.
L.M. and G.G. timely requested a de novo hearing of the
associate judge's finding that termination was proper. In
their request, the parents questioned whether the evidence
was factually and legally sufficient to terminate their
parental rights pursuant to Texas Family Code § 161.001.
The trial court set the matter for a hearing and the
following occurred at that hearing:
MS. RATLIFF [the Department's counsel]: And on behalf of
the Department also present is the caseworker, Janet Orta,
and CASA is also present.
MR. WATSON [L.M. and G.G.'s counsel]: Cardine Watson here
on behalf of [L.M. and G.G.], the parents.
THE COURT: The Court had requested that the court reporters
prepare the record that was heard by Judge Hart. Mr. Watson
indicated to the Court after the Court had reviewed that that
he didn't think there would be any additional evidence
offered as far as a de novo. So, is there any additional
evidence or testimony that anybody feels the Court needs to
be aware of?
MR. WATSON: Judge, that is still my position. In reference to
my clients, contact with my clients has been sporadic. I
spoke with [G.G.] probably about two or three weeks ago, and
she was supposed to get ahold of me, schedule a time to come
in and meet with me to discuss the de novo and her second
case, which I believe is going to be under this cause, and
she never called me back to schedule that appointment to come
in and speak with me. And all the numbers that I had for
them, they're no longer working. And so I believe
September 1st they didn't show up. We had a permanency
hearing on Monday the 7th. Even though they weren't
required to be there, they had notice of the de novo, so I
would have assumed they would have -- wanted to be there.
They were not there and they're not here today. So, I
wouldn't have a witness to call today to put on any
additional evidence, Judge.
MS. RATLIFF: The Department would not have any additional
evidence to present today. I would also add that the
caseworker has had very minimal contact with the parents
since September 1st, and any additional evidence from
September 1st forward would only substantiate the prior --
the findings of Judge Hart in this case.
THE COURT: Based on the Court's review of the prior
testimony, the Court will deny the de novo appeal at this
time. And we'll be adjourned.
a proposed order terminating the parental rights of L.M. and
G.G. was given the trial court. Whether it was this proposed
order or one of the trial court's own making, an order
terminating the parental rights of both L.M. and G.G was
executed by the district court on November 9, 2016. Included
within the decree were findings specifying the statutory
grounds found by the court as warranting termination and a
finding that termination was in the children's best
interests. The parents then appealed.
Law and Analysis
and G.G. contend that the trial court "erred in
summarily denying the de novo hearing request because there
was no new evidence. The referring court did not use [the