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In re A.L.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

May 17, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.L., J.L, AND W.L., CHILDREN

          On appeal from the 36th District Court of Bee County, Texas.

          Before Justices Rodriguez, Contreras, and Hinojosa

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DORI CONTRERAS Justice

         Appellant J.L. appeals the trial court's judgment involuntarily terminating her parental rights with respect to minor children A.L., J.L., and W.L.[1] We affirm.

         I. Anders Brief

         J.L.'s court-appointed appellate counsel has filed a brief stating that she has diligently reviewed the entire record and has concluded that there are no non-frivolous grounds for appeal. See Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967); Porter v. Tex. Dep't of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 105 S.W.3d 52, 56 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.) ("[W]hen appointed counsel represents an indigent client in a parental termination appeal and concludes that there are no non-frivolous issues for appeal, counsel may file an Anders-type brief."). Counsel's brief meets the requirements of Anders as it presents a professional evaluation showing why there are no arguable grounds for advancing an appeal. See In re Schulman, 252 S.W.3d 403, 407 n.9 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008) (orig. proceeding) ("In Texas, an Anders brief need not specifically advance 'arguable' points of error if counsel finds none, but it must provide record references to the facts and procedural history and set out pertinent legal authorities."). Counsel has informed this Court in writing that she has: (1) notified J.L. that she has filed an Anders brief and a motion to withdraw; (2) provided J.L. with copies of both pleadings; (3) informed J.L. of her rights to file a pro se response, [2] to review the record preparatory to filing that response, and to seek review if we conclude that the appeal is frivolous; and (4) supplied J.L. with a form motion for pro se access to the appellate record. See Anders, 386 U.S. at 744; Kelly, 436 S.W.3d at 319-20. More than an adequate time has passed, and J.L. has filed neither a motion for pro se access to the record nor a pro se response.

          II. Independent Review

         Upon receiving an Anders brief, we must conduct a full examination of all the proceedings to determine whether the appeal is wholly frivolous. See Penson v. Ohio, 488 U.S. 75, 80 (1988); see also In re G.M., No. 13-08-00569-CV, 2009 WL 2547493, at *1 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi Aug. 20, 2009, no pet.) (mem. op.). We have reviewed the record and counsel's brief and we have found no reversible error. See Bledsoe v. State, 178 S.W.3d 824, 827-28 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005) ("Due to the nature of Anders briefs, by indicating in the opinion it considered the issues raised in the brief and reviewed the record for reversible error but found none, the court of appeals met the requirements of Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 47.1.").

         III. Motion to Withdraw

         J.L.'s counsel has filed a motion to withdraw. See Anders, 386 U.S. at 744; see also In re Schulman, 252 S.W.3d at 408 n.17 ("If an attorney believes the appeal is frivolous, he must withdraw from representing the appellant."). However, when an Anders brief is filed in a parental termination appeal, the appellant's right to appointed counsel extends to "all proceedings in [the Texas Supreme Court], including the filing of a petition for review." In the Interest of P.M., 520 S.W.3d 24, 27 (Tex. 2016) (citing Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 107.013(a)(1) (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st C.S.)). Thus, in the absence of additional grounds for withdrawal, a motion to withdraw brought in the court of appeals may be premature. Id. Counsel is permitted to withdraw only for good cause, and counsel's belief that the client has no grounds to seek further review from the court of appeals' decision does not constitute good cause. Id.

         J.L.'s counsel's motion to withdraw does not show "good cause" other than counsel's determination that an appeal would be frivolous. Accordingly, in light of the Texas Supreme Court's decision in P.M., we deny counsel's motion to withdraw. See id.; see also In re C.J., 501 S.W.3d 254, 255 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2016, pets. denied) (denying a motion for withdrawal in light of P.M. where it did not show "good cause" other than counsel's determination that an appeal would be frivolous); In re A.M., 495 S.W.3d 573, 582 & n.2 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, pets. denied) (noting that since P.M. was handed down, "most courts of appeals affirming parental termination orders after receiving Anders briefs have denied the attorney's motion to withdraw").[3]

         IV. Conclusion

         The trial court's ...


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