Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
Appeal from the 108th District Court Potter County, Texas
Trial Court No. 91,275-E-FM, Honorable Douglas R. Woodburn,
QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PIRTLE, JJ.
QUINN CHIEF JUSTICE
trial court terminated A.L.'s parental rights to her
daughter, K.L.; A.L. appealed from that judgment. Appointed
counsel for A.L. filed a motion to withdraw, together with an
Anders brief in support thereof. In the latter,
counsel certified that she diligently searched the record and
concluded that the appeal was without merit. Appellate
counsel also filed a copy of a letter sent to A.L. informing
her of her right to file a pro se response. A.L. was also
provided a copy of the appellate record, according to
counsel. By letter dated July 31, 2019, this Court notified
A.L. of her right to file her own brief or response by August
20, 2019, if she wished to do so. To date, no response has
compliance with the principles enunciated in Anders,
appellate counsel discussed two potential areas for appeal.
They encompassed the sufficiency of the evidence to support
1) at least one statutory ground upon which termination was
based and 2) the finding that termination was in the
child's best interest. Per our obligation specified in
In re D.D., 279 S.W.3d 849, 850 (Tex. App.-Dallas
2009, pet. denied) (citing Bledsoe v. State, 178
S.W.3d 824, 827 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005)), we too reviewed the
appellate record in search of arguable issues for appeal.
None were found.
in conducting our review we observed that the multiple
statutory grounds upon which termination was based included
subsections (D) and (E) of § 161.001(b)(1) of the Texas
Family Code. That observation coupled with the due process
concerns mentioned by the Supreme Court in In re
N.G., ___ S.W.3d ___, 2019 Tex. LEXIS 465 (Tex. May 17,
2019) (per curiam) (involving a non-Anders setting)
led us to also conduct a sua sponte review of the
record to determine whether those findings were supported by
the quantum of evidence mandated in In re N.G. They
were. Yet, the Anders brief filed by appointed
counsel does not reveal whether counsel undertook a similar
correctly observed that termination may be affirmed on any
one statutory ground found by the factfinder, assuming, of
course, sufficient evidence supported that ground. In re
M.M., No. 07-19-00105-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 7505, at
*5 (Tex. App.- Amarillo Aug. 21, 2019) (mem. op.).
Nonetheless, a parent may encounter other future
ramifications of a finding that termination was warranted on
either (D) or (E), as explained in N.G. And, if such
findings lacked evidentiary support, question arises as to
whether an arguable issue exists pretermitting use of the
Anders procedure, given those ramifications. Thus,
counsel would best serve and safeguard the interests of his
or her client by conducting an evidentiary review of those
findings when assessing whether the appeal is meritless;
counsel would also assist the court in efficiently and
accurately disposing of the appeal by illustrating that such
a review were undertaken. See id. at *7 (wherein
appointed counsel was asked to submit additional briefing).
our review of the record yielded no arguable issues, we
concur with counsel's representation that the appeal is
meritless. Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.
we also call counsel's attention to the scope of an
indigent parent's right to counsel. Such right
encompasses the right to legal representation through the
exhaustion of appeals, which may include petitioning for
review by the Texas Supreme Court. See In re P.M.,
520 S.W.3d 24, 26-27 (Tex. 2016) (per curiam). In explaining
why counsel filed an Anders brief and motion to
withdraw at bar, counsel told appellant: "[Y]ou have the
pro se right to seek review of the Court of
Appeals' decision from the Supreme Court of Texas."
Telling a parent that he or she has a "pro se"
right to seek further review implies that counsel need not
assist in that endeavor. So implying may be inaccurate in
view of P.M. Consequently, we take no action on
counsel's motion to withdraw.
Anders v. California, 386
U.S. 738, 87 S. Ct. 1396, 18 L. Ed. 2d 493 ...