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In re G.N.L.

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

May 23, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF G.N.L., J.M.R.T., J.M.R.T., CHILDREN

          On appeal from the 377th District Court of Victoria County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Contreras and Justices Benavides and Hinojosa

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LETICIA HINOJOSA, JUSTICE

         Appellant C.J.B. appeals from the trial court's judgment terminating her parental rights to her minor children, G.N.L., J.M.R.T., and J.M.R.T.[1] Appellant's court-appointed counsel has filed a brief stating that the appeal is without merit and that there are no arguable grounds for reversal. See Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 744 (1967); Porter v. Tex. Dep't. of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 105 S.W.3d 52, 56 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.) (permitting appointed counsel in a parental termination appeal to file a brief in compliance with Anders). We affirm.

         I. Anders Brief

         Appellant's counsel has filed a brief stating that his review of the record yielded no grounds of reversible error upon which an appeal can be predicated. Counsel's brief meets the requirements of Anders as it presents a professional evaluation demonstrating why there are no arguable grounds to advance on appeal. See In re Schulman, 252 S.W.3d 403, 407 n.9 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008) ("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.") (citing Hawkins v. State, 112 S.W.3d 340, 343-44 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.)); Stafford v. State, 813 S.W.2d 503, 510 n.3 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991) (en banc).

         In compliance with High v. State, 573 S.W.2d 807, 813 (Tex. Crim. App. [Panel Op.] 1978) and Kelly v. State, 436 S.W.3d 313, 319-22 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014), appellant's counsel carefully discussed why, under controlling authority, there is no reversible error in the trial court's judgment. Counsel has also informed this Court that appellant has been (1) notified that counsel has filed an Anders brief; (2) provided with a copy of the Anders brief; (3) informed of her right to file a pro se response and review the record preparatory to filing that response[2]; and (4) provided with a pro se motion for access to the appellate record. See Anders, 386 U.S. at 744; Kelly, 436 S.W.3d at 319- 20; see also In re Schulman, 252 S.W.3d at 409 n.23. A reasonable amount of time has passed, and we have not received a pro se response from appellant.

         II. Independent Review

         Upon receiving an Anders brief, we must conduct a full examination of all proceedings to determine whether the case is wholly frivolous. Penson v. Ohio, 488 U.S. 75, 80 (1988). A court of appeals has two options when an Anders brief is filed. After reviewing the entire record, it may: (1) determine that the appeal is wholly frivolous and issue an opinion explaining that it finds no reversible error; or (2) determine that there are arguable grounds for appeal and remand the case to the trial court for appointment of new appellate counsel. Bledsoe v. State, 178 S.W.3d 824, 826-27 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005). If the court finds arguable grounds for appeal, it may not review those grounds until after new counsel has briefed those issues on appeal. Id.

         We have reviewed the entire record and counsel's brief, and we have found no reversible error. See id. at 827-28 ("Due to the nature of Anders briefs, by indicating in the opinion that it considered the issues raised in the briefs and reviewed the record for reversible error but found none, the court of appeals met the requirement of Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 47.1."); Stafford, 813 S.W.2d at 509.

         III. Motion to Withdraw

         Appellant's counsel has asked this Court for permission to withdraw as appellate counsel. The Texas Supreme Court, however, has held that the right to counsel in suits seeking the termination of parental rights extends to "all proceedings in [the Texas Supreme Court], including the filing of a petition for review." In re P.M., 520 S.W.3d 24, 27 (Tex. 2016) (per curiam). Accordingly, counsel's obligation to C.J.B. has not yet been discharged. See id. Counsel's motion to withdraw is therefore denied. See id. If C.J.B., after consulting with counsel, desires to file a petition for review, counsel should timely file with the Texas Supreme Court "a petition for review that satisfies the standards for an Anders brief." Id.

         IV. ...


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