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In re M.C.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont

April 11, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF M.C.

          Submitted on February 12, 2019

          On Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 3 Montgomery County, Texas Trial Cause No. 17-09-10801-CV

          Before McKeithen, C.J., Kreger and Johnson, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LEANNE JOHNSON, JUSTICE

         Appellant June[1] appeals from an order terminating her parental rights to her minor son, M.C. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), (O), (2) (West Supp. 2018). In issues one, two, and three, June challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court's conclusion that June (1) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed M.C. to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger M.C.'s physical or emotional well-being, (2) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed M.C. with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers M.C.'s physical or emotional well-being, or (3) failed to comply with the provisions of a court-ordered parenting plan. In issue four, June challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence supporting the finding that termination of her parental rights was in M.C.'s best interest. Because we conclude that the evidence admitted at trial sufficiently supports the trial court's order of termination, we affirm.

         Background

         The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ("the Department") removed six-year-old M.C., who is autistic, after a referral alleging neglectful supervision by June and June's mother. According to the report, June and her mother, with whom M.C. lived, had an altercation after June confronted her mother about drug use. June tested positive for cocaine and her mother tested positive for methamphetamines.

         June testified that M.C. was born on October 6, 2010, and M.C. and June initially lived with June's sister. When M.C. was six months old, June was incarcerated, and M.C. went to live with June's mother.

         June testified that she had previously been convicted more than six times for crimes that included "drug cases, prostitution cases, [and] assault." June also admitted that since M.C.'s birth she had been arrested at least twice for felony prostitution (third or more), twice for criminal trespass, once for felony manufacturing of a controlled substance, once for possession of cocaine, and once for felony aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury when she allegedly pulled a knife on her boyfriend during a domestic dispute. June testified that M.C. was not living with her at the time of these criminal cases, but he was living with June's mother.

         According to June, she mistakenly believed her mother obtained custody of M.C. when June was on drugs and June's mother "had [June] sign some paperwork." June testified that M.C. lived out of state for a while with June's mother and June visited them "two to three times a month[, ]" and then June's mother and M.C. ultimately moved back to Montgomery County, where June would visit them "every couple of months." According to a judgment dated April 24, 2017, June pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily injury to a family member and she was sentenced to five years in jail, probated for four years.

         According to June, in June or July of 2017, she went to stay a week with her mother and M.C. and she learned her mother was using drugs. June testified that in August of 2017 she went to her mother's house and they had a disagreement because June wanted her son back and that is when June was arrested because she and her mother "had a physical altercation over [M.C.]" June testified that her mother was "high on meth" and that June did not think it was appropriate for M.C. to stay with her mother at that time.

         A Judgment Revoking Community Supervision was admitted into evidence and it indicates that on May 15, 2018, June pleaded "true" to the State's motion to revoke June's community supervision and she was convicted of assault causing bodily injury to a family member and sentenced to two years in jail. At the time of trial, June was incarcerated and serving the two-year sentence. According to June, she had been denied parole and the earliest she could be released would be January 30, 2019.

         June also testified she was on probation when she signed her service plan in October 2017, and nothing had been filed to revoke her probation at that time. The service plan June signed was admitted into evidence, and it required June to provide her caseworker proof of employment and housing, to participate in and successfully complete a psychological evaluation by Dr. Paul Damin, to participate in and successfully complete a drug and alcohol assessment with BES Group Associates, and to submit to random drug testing. According to June, she arrived at the wrong time for the psychological evaluation and returned at a re-scheduled time, but she was unable to stay long enough for Dr. Damin to complete the evaluation. June testified that she went to take the drug and alcohol assessment but "the woman told me that I was there the wrong day [and] kept trying to reset me every time I went up there." According to June, she submitted to one drug test that she failed, and she had taken "two X pills when [she] first got released from jail [and] they said [she] had low levels of cocaine in [her] system." June admitted she did not obtain stable employment or stable housing as required by her service plan. According to June, prior to going into prison she did not complete any of the required items on her service plan. June stated that prior to her incarceration her abusive boyfriend would not "allow [her] to do certain things at times[]" to complete her service plan, she did not get a chance to complete her service plan, and she stated she wants another chance. June testified that she knows she "messed up, but [she] didn't realize how serious it was at the time."

         June admitted that she told the parole board that, upon her release, she would return to her abusive boyfriend and that she had no arrangements for employment. June testified that since the parole board hearing she changed her mind about her arrangements upon release and she had requested that she be released to a halfway house that would allow for M.C. and her other children to live with her. June testified that she had no job prospects upon release and that she would apply for food stamps. June explained that she could possibly do secretarial work for her sister who owned a travel agency or do manual labor for the same sister who also remodels houses, and that she has helped her sister with these jobs in the past. According to June, while incarcerated she has taken the "Changes" class which addresses anger, drugs, stress ...


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