Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the County Court at Law Number 1 Randall County,
Texas Trial Court No. 72, 943-L1; Honorable Jack Graham,
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
PATRICK A. PIRTLE JUSTICE
J.D., Sr. appeals the trial court's order terminating his
parental rights to his child, J.D., Jr. In presenting
this appeal, appointed counsel has filed an
Anders brief in support of a motion to withdraw.
Jr. was born February 23, 2016. In September 2017, law
enforcement officers were called to the residence where he
was living with his mother, M.C. When they arrived, M.C.
complained that she was being choked by J.D., Sr. During the
incident, J.D., Jr. was in her arms. In the parents'
three-year relationship, domestic violence was a recurring
event in the home.
November 2017, officers were again called to the residence on
a domestic violence complaint involving J.D., Sr. Relying on
help from a friend, M.C. escaped from the residence with
J.D., Jr. before the police arrived. Once they were away from
the residence, M.C. asked her friend to stop and pull over.
When she refused, M.C. threatened her with a tire iron. The
friend complied with M.C.'s demand and pulled over. M.C.
then removed J.D., Jr. from the car and ran down the street
where she was apprehended by law enforcement officers. She
was arrested for child endangerment, evading arrest, and
possession of marijuana. Shortly thereafter, the Texas
Department of Family and Protective Services filed its
Original Petition for Protection of a Child, for
Conservatorship, and for Termination in Suit Affecting the
Parent-Child Relationship. Based upon that petition, the
child was removed from his parents and placed in foster care.
At the time of his removal, J.D., Jr. tested positive for
marijuana and cocaine.
Department's evidence at the final hearing established
that J.D., Sr. was uncooperative throughout the termination
proceedings. He was ordered four times by the court to submit
to drug tests and was a "no show" for all four
tests. He was given a plan of service-compliance of which was
incorporated into a court order. In April 2018, J.D., Sr.
tested positive for methamphetamine, marijuana, and
amphetamine. Although he did complete parenting classes, he
failed to complete six sessions of counseling and quit
because he was tired of hearing that marijuana was illegal.
He also failed to (1) report regularly to the Department, (2)
attend a batterer's intervention and prevention program,
(3) complete a drug/alcohol assessment, (4) provide proof of
stable employment, or (5) establish a safe environment for
the child. He left the state for an extended period and only
visited J.D., Jr. once during the entire proceedings.
Department's evidence further established that J.D., Jr.
had bonded with his foster family and all his needs were
being suitably met. In addition, his foster family expressed
an intent to adopt J.D., Jr. if the trial court terminated
the parental rights of his mother and father.
upon the evidence that J.D., Sr. had no contact with J.D.,
Jr. for at least seven months; the Department had made
reasonable efforts to return his child to him; he did not
regularly visit or maintain significant contact with the
child; and he failed to demonstrate any ability to provide
the child with a safe environment, the trial court found by
clear and convincing evidence that J.D., Sr. had
constructively abandoned J.D., Jr. while he was in the
Department's care. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§ 161.001(b)(1)(N) (West Supp. 2018).
addition, the trial court found by clear and convincing
evidence that J.D., Sr. failed to comply with the provisions
of a court order that specifically established the actions
necessary for him to obtain the return of his child who had
been under the Department's supervision for a period in
excess of nine months as a result of the child's removal
for neglect or abuse. § 161.001(b)(1)(O).
trial court also found that returning the child to J.D.,
Sr.'s care was not in the child's best interest due
to his father's continued absence, ongoing drug use, and
disinterest in taking steps or following a plan to mitigate
the circumstances that necessitated his removal. See
§ 161.001(b)(1)(N), (O). Accordingly, the trial court
issued its order of termination finding by clear and
convincing evidence that termination was proper under section
161.001(b)(1)(N) and (O) and it was in the child's best
interest. See § 161.001(b)(2). This appeal
Texas Family Code permits a court to terminate the
parent-child relationship if the Department establishes one
or more acts or omissions enumerated under section
161.001(b)(1) and termination of that relationship is in the
child's best interest. See § 161.001(b)(1), (2).
See also Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 370 (Tex.
1976). The burden of proof is clear and convincing evidence.
§ 161.206(a). "'Clear and convincing
evidence' means the measure or degree of proof that will
produce in the mind of ...