Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo
IN THE INTEREST OF S.R.R. AND S.R., CHILDREN
Appeal from the 222nd District Court Deaf Smith County, Texas
Trial Court No. DR-2017K-169, Honorable Jack M. Graham,
CAMPBELL and PIRTLE and PARKER, JJ.
T. CAMPBELL, JUSTICE
an appeal from the trial court's order terminating the
mother's parental rights to her children, S.R.R. and
Appointed appellate counsel for the mother has filed a brief
pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 744
(1967). Finding no arguable grounds for appeal, we affirm the
trial court's judgment.
to information contained in the clerk's record filed in
this case, the Texas Department of Family and Protective
Services became involved with the family when it received a
report that the mother was selling her food stamps for drug
money. The mother was allegedly abusing methamphetamine and
alcohol. The father of the children also used methamphetamine
and abused alcohol, including use of drugs in the presence of
the children. S.R.R., three years old at the time of the
final hearing, and S.R., then two, had little to eat, were
dirty, and lacked clothing.
unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable place for the mother
and children to stay, the Department decided the
children's best interest required their removal from the
mother's care. The children were placed in a foster home
where they remained at the time of the final hearing.
Department filed pleadings for protection of a child, for
conservatorship, and for termination of the parents'
rights. In its petition, the Department set forth eleven
grounds on which it alleged the mother's rights to her
children should be terminated. The Department also alleged
termination of the mother's parental rights would be in
the best interest of the children.
final hearing was held almost a year after the petition was
filed. The mother had completed many of the services required
by her service plan but was incarcerated during the pendency
of the case and, according to a caseworker's testimony,
would remain so "for the foreseeable
future." In September and October 2018, the mother
sent three letters to the trial court expressing
dissatisfaction with her appointed counsel and a desire to
work toward reunification with her children.
morning of the final hearing, the mother and the father
signed affidavits voluntarily relinquishing their parental
rights. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.103 (West
2015) (setting forth requirements for affidavit of voluntary
relinquishment of parental rights). The mother and her
attorney were in court at the final hearing and announced
ready. The Department supervisor for the case testified. She
told the court she was present when each parent signed the
affidavit and that neither had revoked them. She also said
the children were doing "[b]eautifully" in
placement and that they have "adjusted well. The
placement is meeting all of their needs. There are no
concerns at this point." Further, the foster parents had
conveyed to the Department a desire to adopt the children.
The supervisor expressed her opinion that neither parent was
capable of meeting the needs of the children and that
termination of their rights was in the children's best
trial court bench-filed the affidavits and terminated the
mother's rights on the basis of the affidavit pursuant to
section 161.001(b)(1)(K) of the Family Code. Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 161.001(b)(1)(K). It found also that termination
was in the children's best interest pursuant to section
161.001(b)(2). Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001(b)(2). The
court signed its judgment of termination on October 30, 2018.
court first became aware of the case in June 2019 when it
received a letter from the mother seeking information about
the status of her appeal. Having no appeal on file, we
requested and received papers filed in the trial court
post-judgment. Those included a letter the mother filed,
dated November 22, 2018, which we found to be a sufficient
attempt to invoke our appellate jurisdiction. We docketed the
appeal, abated it, and asked the trial court to determine
whether the mother desired to prosecute the appeal, whether
she was indigent, whether new counsel should be appointed,
and whether the mother was entitled to the clerk's and
reporter's record without cost. After a hearing, the
trial court entered findings of fact, finding among other
things that the attorney then representing the mother should
be released. Thereafter, on June 21, 2019, the trial court
appointed new appellate counsel. Counsel subsequently filed
the Anders brief now before us, addressing the
ground on which the trial court terminated the mother's
parental rights, section 161.001(b)(1)(K), and evidence of
to Anders, the brief states counsel has diligently
reviewed the record and the applicable law and has concluded
that, in his professional opinion, the record shows no
arguably meritorious issue on which to base an appeal.
See In re Schulman, 252 S.W.3d 403, 407 n.9 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2008) (orig. proceeding); Stafford v.
State,813 S.W.2d 503, 510 n.3 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991)
(en banc); In re A.W.T.,61 S.W.3d 87, 88 (Tex.
App.-Amarillo 2001, ...