Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 1 Randall County,
Texas Trial Court No. 73419L1, Honorable James W. Anderson,
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
T. Campbell Justice.
the alleged father of C.Z., filed a notice of appeal
challenging the trial court's February 5, 2019 final
order terminating any parental-child relationship between
R.Z. and C.Z. Appellee is the Texas Department of Family
and Protective Services. R.Z.'s court- appointed attorney
has filed a motion to withdraw supported by an
Anders brief. We will take no action on counsel's
motion to withdraw and will affirm the final order of the
Department's case against R.Z. and the mother was tried
to the bench on December 12, 2018. Neither the mother nor
R.Z. appeared for the final hearing but each was represented
at the hearing by court-appointed counsel. The final hearing
testimony of a Department investigator showed C.Z. was born
in July 2014. The investigator further testified when he met
with the mother she admitted using methamphetamine two days
earlier and selling the drug from her home the previous week.
The Department was appointed C.Z.'s temporary managing
conservator in February 2018 and at the time of final hearing
the child was in a relative placement. A Department
caseworker testified C.Z. was "thriving" in
placement and the relatives wanted to adopt C.Z.
investigator testified he spoke with R.Z. by telephone and
asked him to take a drug screen. He refused, explaining he
was on the way to Oklahoma for work, but added he would
contact the investigator on the upcoming Friday. When R.Z.
did not contact the investigator as agreed, the investigator
called R.Z. According to the investigator, R.Z. told him he
was unable to call because his phone was broken. The
investigator further testified he had no further contact with
caseworker testified the Department prepared a service plan
for R.Z. which became the order of the court in April 2018.
The caseworker further testified that R.Z. completed none of
the required services, had not contacted her since the day
the service plan was developed, had not visited C.Z., and
tested positive for methamphetamines and amphetamines through
his only test during the case.
caseworker answered affirmatively when asked by C.Z.'s
attorney ad litem and guardian ad litem if R.Z. was C.Z's
alleged father and if she had requested a paternity registry
search. The caseworker further testified she had received,
and filed with the court, a negative paternity registry
search report. The trial court then judicially noticed the
paternity registry search filed in the clerk's record.
the parties rested and closed the trial court orally rendered
judgment terminating any parental rights of R.Z. to C.Z.,
based on Family Code section 161.002(b)(2), which provides,
"The rights of an alleged father may be terminated if .
. . the child is over one year of age at the time the
petition for termination of the parent-child relationship or
for adoption is filed, he has not registered with the
paternity registry under Chapter 160, and after the exercise
of due diligence by the petitioner: (A) his identity and
location are unknown; or (B) his identity is known but he
cannot be located." Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §
161.002(b)(2) (West Supp. 2018). By motion filed January 17,
2019, with no apparent objection, the Department made the
trial court aware that R.Z. had been served with citation in
the case and requested the trial court
"clarify" the grounds for termination of C.Z.'s
parental rights. The court granted the Department's
motion by order signed February 5, 2019, ordering that
R.Z.'s parental-rights termination was based on Family
Code section 161.002(b)(1). That subsection provides,
"The rights of an alleged father may be terminated if
after being served with citation, he does not respond by
timely filing an admission of paternity or a counterclaim for
paternity under Chapter 160[.]" Tex. Fam. Code Ann.
§ 161.002(b)(1). The same day, the trial court signed
the final order, terminating R.Z.'s parental rights under
Anders brief presents a professional evaluation of
the record supporting her opinion there are no arguable
grounds for appeal. Anders, 386 U.S. at 744-45. We
find counsel's motion to withdraw and brief meet the
requirements of Anders. Counsel also has
demonstrated she provided a copy of her brief and the record
to R.Z. and notified him of his right to file a pro se
response if he desired. Kelly v. State, 436 S.W.3d
313, 319 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). By letter from the clerk of
this court, we also notified R.Z. of his opportunity to
respond to counsel's brief. He did not file a response.
presented with a motion to withdraw supported by an
Anders brief we are required to independently
examine the entire record and decide whether counsel has
correctly determined the record does not present an arguable
ground for appeal. Stafford v. State, 813 S.W.2d
503, 511 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991); In re A.W.T., 61
S.W.3d 87, 89 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2001, no pet.). We have
carefully reviewed the record and counsel's
Anders brief and agree with counsel ...