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In re J.C.C.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

August 30, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF J.C.C., JR., L.H.M.C., and J.Z.M., Children

         From the 150th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2016PA00767 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor, Judge Presiding

          Karen Angelini, Justice Marialyn Barnard, Justice Irene Rios, Justice

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          IRENE RIOS, JUSTICE.

         AFFIRMED

         J.C.C., Sr., the father of J.C.C., Jr., L.H.M.C., and J.Z.M., appeals the trial court's order terminating his parental rights.[1] The only issue J.C.C., Sr. presents is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court's finding that termination of his parental rights was in the children's best interest. We affirm the trial court's order.

         Background

         On April 13, 2016, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services filed a petition to terminate J.C.C., Sr.'s rights. When the petition was filed, J.C.C., Sr. was incarcerated, and the children were removed from their mother's care because of her ongoing drug use and her neglectful supervision of the children. The case proceeded to a bench trial on February 15, 2017.

         Angela Shorts, the Department's removing worker, testified the Department has been involved with the family for about two years. The case was initially assigned to family based services. The children's mother, T.C., and her boyfriend, J.G., tested positive for marijuana. T.C. also tested positive for heroin, and the Department had concerns about methamphetamine use. The Department sought to have the children removed after Shorts learned the family was evicted from their home. Although Shorts attempted to implement a parent-child safety plan, there were no viable caretakers. T.C. admitted to Shorts that she continued to use marijuana despite being pregnant and also told Shorts she thought she would test positive for Vicodin that she was using because her tooth was hurting. Although Shorts knew J.C.C., Sr. was incarcerated when the children were removed, she was not sure why he was incarcerated.

         Glory Bishop began working on the case for the Department in October of 2016. On the date of trial, J.C.C., Jr. was eight, L.H.M.C. was seven, and J.Z.M. was six. Bishop testified J.C.C., Sr. was incarcerated when the children were removed and had not completed his service plan. Although J.C.C., Sr. completed a domestic violence class and possibly completed a parenting class, he was unsuccessfully discharged from individual therapy due to his incarceration. J.C.C., Sr. completed a drug assessment, and outpatient drug treatment was recommended based on the assessment. After missing three of the treatment classes, J.C.C., Sr. requested classes closer to his home; however, he was reincarcerated before that request could be accommodated. Bishop testified J.C.C., Sr. was incarcerated in October of 2016 for possession of a controlled substance, released in November of 2016, reincarcerated on January 17, 2017 for possession of a controlled substance, and released again on February 6, 2017.

         J.C.C., Sr. admitted his October 2016 incarceration was based on his use of methamphetamines. When J.C.C., Sr. was not incarcerated, he was consistent in visiting with the children. Bishop testified it was in the children's best interest to terminate J.C.C., Sr.'s parental rights. Bishop stated J.C.C., Sr. is still using drugs and is unable to provide for the children. J.C.C., Sr. is not working and is living with a family member; therefore, Bishop testified he is unable to provide a safe and stable home for the children. In addition, J.C.C., Sr. has additional criminal charges pending. Bishop stated having a forever home was in the children's best interest.

         Bishop testified the children were living at St. Jude's because no potential caretakers had been located. All three children have serious behavioral issues making them difficult to place. Although the children's maternal grandmother previously informed the Department she was unwilling to care for the children, she expressed a willingness to care for the children on the morning trial began. Bishop stated the Department would explore the possibility of that placement.

         On cross-examination, Bishop testified J.C.C., Sr. signed his service plan. As noted, J.C.C., Sr. was released from jail on February 6, 2017, and trial commenced on February 15, 2017. After J.C.C., Sr. was released, Bishop provided him with the information necessary to restart his drug assessment and drug treatment by text message. J.C.C., Sr. was living with a sister who has history with the Department. Bishop stated she did not believe J.C.C., Sr. would be able to complete his service plan if he was given an additional two months because of his continual drug use. Bishop had not sent J.C.C., Sr. for a urinalysis because he did not have a continuous phone number to contact him when he was not incarcerated.

         J.C.C., Sr. testified he was incarcerated when the children were removed in April of 2016, for violating the terms of his parole. J.C.C., Sr. stated he was on parole for a "violent case" and went to his sister's house after he was kicked out of the halfway house in Austin where he was required to stay after his release on parole. J.C.C., Sr.'s sister called the police which led to his incarceration. J.C.C., Sr. was released from that incarceration in June of 2016. J.C.C., Sr. signed a service plan on August 1, 2016, but stated he did not receive a copy of the plan. J.C.C., Sr. agreed he did not follow the plan when he was arrested in October of 2016 for possession of a controlled substance. J.C.C., Sr. was released from jail on November 7, 2016. J.C.C., Sr. testified he did not use drugs again until he was told his children would not be returned to his care after which he used methamphetamine. J.C.C., Sr. was arrested again on January 17, 2017 and was scheduled for sentencing on March 14, 2017. Although J.C.C., Sr. testified he had a plea agreement for six years' deferred adjudication, he also testified a "good chance" existed that he would be "sentenced for a good amount of time." J.C.C., Sr. also admitted he had previously served time in prison on a three year sentence for assault family violence for which he was on parole.

         At the conclusion of the evidence, the trial court terminated J.C.C., Sr.'s ...


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