Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 45th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-02394 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Sitting: Sandee Bryan Marion, Chief Justice, Marialyn
Barnard, Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice.
BRYAN MARION, CHIEF JUSTICE.
the father of E.E.L., appeals the trial court's order
terminating his parental rights. E.L. challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence to support both the trial
court's predicate statutory findings and the trial
court's finding that termination of E.L.'s parental
rights was in E.E.L.'s best interest. We affirm the trial
October 25, 2016, the Department filed its petition to
terminate E.L.'s parental rights. At that time, E.E.L.
was three weeks old. A bench trial was held on August 3,
2017. On the date of the trial, E.E.L. was nine months old.
first witness to testify was the Department's legal
worker. When E.E.L. was born, he and his mother tested
positive for methamphetamines and amphetamines. E.E.L.'s
mother denied using drugs. On one occasion when the legal
worker visited E.E.L.'s mother about engaging in
services, she had to speak with her outside because E.L. was
yelling at the legal worker, using racial slurs and calling
her vulgar, profane names. E.L. was incarcerated on April 16,
2017, for an assault charge. When the legal worker went to
the home where E.L. and E.E.L.'s mother lived prior to
E.L.'s incarceration, the home was boarded up.
legal worker testified a service plan was prepared for E.L.
which she reviewed with him. E.L. had not completed the
required parenting class, the drug assessment, or the
individual counseling. The legal worker testified E.L. might
have gone to one individual counseling appointment, but he
did not complete the counseling requirement. Although E.L.
was taking a domestic violence class as part of his probation
when the plan was implemented, E.L. was discharged from the
class based on his failure to attend. Initially, E.L. told
the legal worker the domestic violence involved a different
girl but later admitted the domestic violence was against
E.E.L.'s mother. The legal worker testified E.L. could
have engaged in his services from November of 2016 to April
2017, when he was incarcerated. The legal worker stated E.L.
had plenty of time to start services before his incarceration
and possibly even complete them. Although E.L. told the legal
worker he was unable to engage in services while
incarcerated, the legal worker testified some incarcerated
parents have been able to engage in services.
legal worker testified E.L. tested positive for marijuana at
the last hearing he attended, but E.L. denied using
marijuana. Instead, E.L. told the legal worker he tested
positive because his family uses marijuana. E.L. had not
engaged in the required drug assessment; therefore, the legal
worker was uncertain whether E.L. could provide E.E.L. with a
drug-free home. The legal worker admitted she only sent E.L.
for one drug test while the case was pending; however, she
stated she had to be able to make contact with E.L. in order
to complete the service authorizations for testing. In
addition, the legal worker testified if E.L. had undertaken
the required drug assessment, he would have been given random
legal worker testified E.L. had not demonstrated an
appropriate parent/child bond with E.E.L. because he failed
to consistently visit him. E.L. only attended fifteen of the
thirty-seven visits scheduled with E.E.L. The legal worker
did not believe E.E.L. knew E.L. was his father. E.L.'s
last visit with E.E.L. was in March.
E.L. was employed at two jobs prior to his incarceration,
E.L. was not employed at the time of trial because he was
incarcerated; therefore, he was unable to financially support
E.E.L. or provide him with a stable residence. E.L. told the
legal worker he planned to move into his mother's house
upon his release from jail in approximately three weeks. The
legal worker testified his mother's home was studied, but
the study was denied based on a concern about protective
ability, including E.L.'s mother having a drug conviction
that was a few years old.
Department's plan was for E.E.L. to be adopted by the
foster parents who have cared for him since shortly after his
birth. The legal worker testified E.E.L. is bonded with his
foster parents who have demonstrated the ability to provide
E.E.L. with a drug-free, domestic-violence-free home. The
legal worker stated the foster parents are equipped to deal
with any complications E.E.L. may suffer from being born drug
testified he engaged in services and visited E.E.L. as much
as he could while working two jobs. E.L. stated he would be
released from jail in three weeks and wanted time to complete
his service plan.
cross-examination, E.L. admitted that in 2015, he was charged
with assault of a family member impeding breathing or
circulation. E.L. also admitted that from 1996 until the
present he consistently had problems with the law. E.L.