Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the 73rd Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-PA-01987 Honorable Charles E. Montemayor,
Sitting: Marialyn Barnard, Justice Rebeca C. Martinez,
Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice
Opinion by: Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice
appeals the trial court's judgment terminating her
parental rights to her daughter, I.G. (born in 2004). She
argues the trial court erred by considering a published
article that was not admitted into evidence and that
insufficient evidence supports the trial court's findings
on the statutory grounds to terminate her parental rights. We
affirm the trial court's judgment.
September 2016, the Department of Family and Protective
Services removed I.G. based on a referral alleging Crystal is
a drug addict and had instructed I.G. to shoplift to acquire
items Crystal could sell to buy drugs. The Department filed a
petition seeking conservatorship of I.G. and to terminate the
parental rights of Crystal and I.G.'s father, Michael.
2017, the case proceeded to a jury trial at which Michael,
Crystal, and the Department's caseworkers Cynthia Suarez
and Ashley Braswell testified. Michael testified briefly; he
stated he is incarcerated for capital murder, had not
complied with court-ordered provisions of his family service
plan, and is voluntarily relinquishing his parental rights.
testified she is in jail for theft of a vehicle and
possession of a controlled substance. She stated she was
incarcerated in January 2017 and was released briefly before
her bond was "pulled" for a failure to appear, and
she returned to jail approximately a month before trial.
Crystal also stated domestic violence occurred during her
relationship with Michael, and although she had worked in the
medical field to support her six children, she was unable to
support I.G. while she was in jail. She also testified I.G.
texted her during the case and said she had been cutting
also testified the Department had not provided her with a
copy of her family service plan, but she was informed she
"had to do counseling and parenting." She further
testified she did not complete any services on her family
service plan before she went to jail in January 2017. Crystal
explained, "The caseworker I had wouldn't listen to
anything I would say at the time. She didn't have any
children, so I don't even know how she could relate to
anything I was trying to tell her." Crystal stated that
after she went to jail, she was able to complete only a
testified she explained to Crystal all of the family service
plan requirements and Crystal seemed to understand those
requirements. Suarez stated she informed Crystal of the
requirements for drug and psychological assessments, drug
testing, maintaining stable employment and housing,
participating in individual counseling, and completing a
domestic violence class. According to Suarez, Crystal
satisfied none of those requirements during the several
months before she was incarcerated. Suarez also testified she
did not give Crystal a copy of her family service plan.
testified she was the investigating caseworker assigned
before the Department filed suit. She testified Crystal
initially denied having a drug problem, but Crystal admitted
she used heroin and morphine when Braswell confronted her
with positive drug test results.
the parties rested and presented closing arguments, the trial
court discussed the case history and the witnesses'
testimony. Commenting on the testimony that I.G. was cutting
herself, the trial court attributed I.G.'s stress to
Crystal's conduct, stating:
Let me tell you what [P]sychology [T]oday says why
adolescents cut. Cutting is a way some teen adolescents try
to cope with the pain of strong emotions, intense pressure or
upsetting relationship problems. They may be dealing with
feelings that seem too difficult to bear or bad situations
that they think they can't change. Some people cut
because they feel desperate for relief from bad feelings. The
trial court signed a final judgment, terminating
Michael's parental rights. The trial court also
terminated Crystal's rights, finding four grounds for
termination and that termination of her parental rights is in
I.G.'s best interest. Only Crystal appealed.
Consideration of ...