Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 137th District Court Lubbock County, Texas
Trial Court No. 2017-527, 563; Honorable John J.
"Trey" McClendon III, Presiding.
QUINN, C.J., and PIRTLE and PARKER, JJ.
ORDER DIRECTING APPOINTMENT OF APPELLATE
B.T., appeals from the trial court's order terminating
her parental rights to her son, J.F. B.T. was represented by
appointed counsel at various times during the termination
proceedings, but is currently without appellate counsel.
termination proceedings began in October of 2017. On November
2, 2017, the trial court appointed Ms. Lezlie Olibas as
B.T.'s trial counsel. Ms. Olibas subsequently moved to
withdraw and to substitute Mr. Charles Chambers as retained
counsel. The trial court granted the motion on March 14,
2018. On August 15, 2018, Mr. Chambers also moved to withdraw
as counsel. The record does not contain an order permitting
Mr. Chambers to withdraw, but B.T. appeared pro se at the
termination proceedings before the associate judge. The
associate judge signed an order of termination on October 24,
2018. That day, proceeding pro se, B.T. filed a request for
de novo hearing. On February 27, 2019, the referring court
signed an order finding B.T. indigent and appointing Mr.
James Moore as counsel. Mr. Moore represented B.T. at the de
novo hearing before the referring court on May 16, 2019.
on the evidence presented at the final hearing, the referring
court signed an order terminating B.T.'s parental rights
on May 21, 2019. The court found clear and convincing
evidence that B.T. (1) knowingly placed or allowed the child
to remain in conditions or surroundings which endangered his
well-being, (2) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the
child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangered
his well-being, and (3) failed to comply with a court order
that established the actions necessary for the parent to
obtain the return of the child following his removal under
chapter 262 of the Family Code. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.001(b)(1)(D), (E), & (O) (West Supp. 2018). The trial
court also found that termination of B.T.'s parental
rights was in her child's best interest. §
161.001(b)(2). That day, Mr. Moore filed a notice of appeal
and a motion to withdraw as counsel. In his motion to
withdraw, Mr. Moore requested appointment of new appellate
counsel for B.T. On June 3, 2019, the referring court signed
an order allowing Mr. Moore to withdraw, but to this date,
B.T. remains without representation to pursue this appeal.
natural right existing between parents and their children is
of constitutional dimension. See Santosky v. Kramer,
455 U.S. 745, 758-59, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 71 L.Ed.2d 599 (1982).
See also Holick v. Smith, 685 S.W.2d 18, 20 (Tex.
1985). Recently, the Texas Supreme Court reiterated that
"[o]ne of the most fundamental liberty interests
recognized is the interest of parents in the care, custody,
and control of their children." In re N.G., No.
18-0508, 2019 Tex. LEXIS 465, at *6-7 (Tex. May 17, 2019)
(per curiam) (citing Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S.
57, 65, 120 S.Ct. 2054, 147 L.Ed.2d 49 (2000)). A parent must
be permitted to appeal the termination of parental rights,
and due process requires that the appeal be meaningful.
In re N.G., 2019 Tex. LEXIS 465, at *8.
suit filed by a governmental entity to terminate the
parent-child relationship, appointment of counsel for an
indigent parent is mandatory. See Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 107.013(a)(1) (West 2019). When the trial court
determines that a parent in a termination proceeding is
indigent, a presumption of indigence is created for the
duration of the suit and any subsequent appeals absent
"a material and substantial change in the parent's
financial circumstances." § 107.013(e). The Texas
Supreme Court has recognized that the statutory right to
counsel in a termination proceeding filed by a governmental
entity applies to all proceedings, including the filing of a
petition for review. In re P.M., 520 S.W.3d 24, 27
(Tex. 2016) (per curiam).
we direct the trial court to appoint B.T. appellate counsel
to pursue this appeal. The name, address, e-mail address,
telephone number, and state bar number of newly-appointed
counsel shall be provided to the clerk of this court in an
order from the trial court. A supplemental clerk's record
containing the trial court's order shall be filed with
the clerk of this court on or before June 24, 2019.
B.T.'s appellate brief shall be due within twenty days
after the order appointing counsel is signed.
 To protect the privacy of the parties
involved, we refer to them by their initials. See
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 109.002(d) (West Supp. 2018).
See also Tex. R. App. P. 9.8(b). The father of J.F.
signed an affidavit of voluntary ...