Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 408th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-01554 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini,
Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice
BRYAN MARION, CHIEF JUSTICE
the father of J.J.T., appeals the trial court's order
terminating his parental rights. Z.T. contends the evidence is insufficient
to support the trial court's finding that termination of
his parental rights was in J.J.T's best interest. We
affirm the trial court's order.
was born on October 11, 2015. Both J.J.T. and his mother,
A.H., tested positive for methamphetamine at birth. The case
was referred to family based safety services, and J.J.T. was
placed in Z.T.'s care. Z.T. was instructed that A.H. was
not allowed unsupervised contact with J.J.T. Despite these
instructions, Z.T. allowed A.H. to have unsupervised contact,
and J.J.T was removed from Z.T.'s care on July 11, 2016,
when A.H. was found passed out at a bus stop and J.J.T. had
rolled from A.H.'s lap into the street. On July 19, 2016,
the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services filed
a petition to terminate Z.T.'s parental rights. A bench
trial was held on April 25, 2017. Z.T. was not present at the
trial, and his attorney stated he had not had "any
substantive contact with [Z.T.] over the last couple of
LaHue was the Department's caseworker on the case since
October of 2016. LaHue testified Z.T. participated in a
psychiatric evaluation in December of 2016 and was diagnosed
with schizophrenia. Z.T. refused to take any medication for
his mental illness and told LaHue he does not need medication
despite acknowledging that he hears voices and sees thing
when he tries to sleep. Z.T. also told LaHue: (1) he
"gets guns from the Cartel and sells them;" (2)
someone sent him a Cadillac from overseas that he gave to a
homeless women; (3) he currently has four women pregnant; and
(4) he has six children. Z.T. stated the mothers of the six
children do not allow him to see them, and he was unable to
tell LaHue how old the children were. LaHue testified Z.T. is
not employed, had not been employed in a long time, and does
not have housing. Z.T. told LaHue he does not need a job or
housing because his friends allow him to stay with them and
give him money. Z.T. would not, however, identify the
friends. With regard to Z.T.'s service plan, LaHue
testified he was unsuccessfully discharged from counseling
because his refusal to take medication made the counselor
unable to work with him.
testified J.J.T. has special needs, including a significant
speech delay. Since being placed in his current foster home
in December of 2016, LaHue stated J.J.T. had made a lot of
progress. J.J.T. receives speech therapy twice a week and has
progressed to saying his first word. Although J.J.T. had
difficulty bonding in other placements, he is bonded with his
foster family and is happy. J.J.T.'s current placement is
a foster-to-adopt home.
cross-examination, LaHue testified Z.T. had visited with
J.J.T. "off and on," but Z.T. had not seen J.J.T.
since February 20, 2017. Although Z.T. would care for J.J.T.
during his visits, he mainly held him while talking to LaHue
about topics unrelated to J.J.T. or the case. LaHue stated
Z.T.'s psychological issues likely prevented him from
actively participating in his services.
foster mother, E.G., is a registered nurse who works in a
neonatal intensive care unit at a hospital. She and her
family have worked hard to bond with J.J.T. E.G. has J.J.T
under the care of a developmental pediatrician who is closely
following his progress. E.G. testified J.J.T. had made
significant progress in bonding with the family in the last
four to six weeks. E.G. and her family are committed to
Lenoir-George, the Department's removing worker
supervisor, testified when J.J.T. was placed in Z.T.'s
care, Z.T. was instructed A.H. could not have any contact
with J.J.T. When Z.T. was contacted about J.J.T being found
in the street with A.H. passed out, Z.T. acknowledged J.J.T.
was not supposed to be with A.H. but stated he believed he
could determine if A.H. was using drugs. Lenoir-George
testified Z.T. had a criminal history that included a 2006
conviction for assault causing bodily harm and a 2010
conviction for driving while intoxicated.
conclusion of the evidence, the trial court terminated
Z.T.'s parental rights, and Z.T. appeals.
terminate parental rights pursuant to section 161.001 of the
Code, the Department has the burden to prove: (1) one of the
predicate grounds in subsection 161.001(b)(1); and (2) that
termination is in the best interest of the child.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001 (West Supp.
2016); In re A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 362 (Tex. 2003).
The applicable burden of proof is the clear and convincing
standard. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.206(a) (West 2014);
In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 263 (Tex. 2002).
"'Clear and convincing evidence' means the
measure or degree of proof that will produce in the ...