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In re P.R.M.D.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler

October 31, 2019



          Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.


          PER CURIAM.

         T.M.D. appeals the termination of his parental rights. T.M.D.'s counsel filed a brief in compliance with Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), and Gainous v. State, 436 S.W.2d 137 (Tex. Crim. App. 1969). We affirm.


         T.M.D. is the father and R.A.M. is the mother of P.R.M.D., K.C.D., and J.M.D.[1] On May 8, 2018, the Department of Family and Protective Services (the Department) filed an original petition for protection of the children, for conservatorship, and for termination of T.M.D.'s and R.A.M.'s parental rights. The Department was appointed temporary managing conservator of the children, and the parents were granted limited access to, and possession of, the children. The father, T.M.D., requested a jury trial.

         At trial, the evidence shows that Kassandra Romine, an investigator with the Department, testified that in May 2018, she received a report regarding the three children, alleging that law enforcement went to their home because a man was there with a gun, there was no food in the house, the oldest child was taking home food to feed his siblings, and R.A.M. left the children with T.M.D. and did not return for over a month. R.A.M. admitted that the allegations were true, and she was using methamphetamine and marijuana in the home with the children. According to Romine, R.A.M. stated that T.M.D. and his mother used methamphetamine, there was violence in the home, and the children were not supervised. At that point, Romine removed the children.

         Romine contacted T.M.D. in her office on May 8, 2018. He stated that he did not have his own home, he was living with his mother, he and his mother used methamphetamine, and he did not have any appropriate family members with whom to place the children. Romine set up visitation for both parents with the children within five days of the removal and T.M.D. did not appear, stating afterwards that he had to work. She scheduled another visitation for him, but he again failed to appear.

         R.A.M., the children's mother, testified she married T.M.D. on November 22, 2013. She stated that T.M.D. and his mother introduced her to methamphetamine. She and T.M.D. used drugs when the children were in the house, but not in the same room. In 2015, the children were removed for one night after allegations that the children were being cared for by T.M.D. and his mother who were using drugs. R.A.M. worked family based services through the Department including obtaining employment and a stable home, submitting to drug tests, and providing a safe environment. Although T.M.D. was given the same options, he did not work services. He denied that allegation, stating that he completed all services.

         Further, for about six months in 2017, T.M.D. kept the children because R.A.M. was having mental health problems and did not believe that she was suitable to care for the children. At that time, R.A.M. was not on medications for her diagnosed mental health illnesses including bipolar disorder, mood swings, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She also attempted to harm or kill herself in the past. She stated that T.M.D. was "clean" at that time. During that six months, R.A.M. went to drug rehabilitation for ten days and decided to get her life in order. Soon afterwards, on November 3, 2017, T.M.D.'s girlfriend contacted her, stating that they had been "kicked out" of her house and needed a place for the children to stay. She agreed and T.M.D. brought the children to her. R.A.M. received a telephone call later that same day, informing her that T.M.D. was in jail.

         R.A.M. believed it was in the children's best interest to live with their foster family and planned to voluntarily relinquish her parental rights to the children if T.M.D.'s parental rights are terminated. The children are in a very stable environment, are thriving, and are able to benefit in ways that she cannot provide such as extracurricular activities.

         LaKendra Watts, a conservatorship specialist with the Department, testified that on the day of the adversary hearing, she gave T.M.D. her card that included her cellular phone number on it with voicemail. T.M.D. did not attend the family group conference on May 31 because he was incarcerated in Shelby County. In June 2018, Watts spoke to T.M.D. on the telephone and went through the list of services that he would need to complete. She also explained that T.M.D. needed to submit to drug testing before visitations could be scheduled. Watts informed T.M.D. that any missed drug test counted as a positive drug test. T.M.D.'s May 8, 2018, hair follicle drug test was positive for marijuana, amphetamine, and methamphetamine. His urinalysis was positive for marijuana. More than three months later, in September 2018, his drug tests were negative and he was allowed visitation with his children.

         Watts gave T.M.D. a copy of his service plan on July 24, 2018, when he was at the Nacogdoches County Jail. In addition to drug testing, T.M.D. was required to have an evaluation through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council (ADAC) and follow all recommendations, have a psychosocial assessment and follow all recommendations, seek mental health services through the Burke Center, and obtain a stable home and employment. ADAC recommended that T.M.D. attend outpatient rehabilitation service, but he did not successfully complete those services. The psychosocial recommended that T.M.D. receive a full psychological evaluation, but he did not show up for two scheduled appointments. His home consists of living at random friends' houses. Although T.M.D. said he worked, Watts never received a check stub as proof of employment. T.M.D. failed to submit to drug testing five times and other times, he would ask to drug test. However, the tests must be random. T.M.D. visited his children once and he had the opportunity for as many as twenty visitations. During T.M.D.'s sole two hour visitation with his children on October 1, 2018, he arrived ten minutes late. He left forty-five minutes prior to the visitation ending. He sent the children one video, for a total of two contacts with the children in one year. T.M.D. has not demonstrated an ability to provide the children with a safe environment.

         Watts believed that T.M.D. engaged in conduct, or knowingly placed the children with persons who engaged in conduct, that endangered the physical or emotional well being of the children because he used drugs, specifically methamphetamine that is transferable to the children through skin-to-skin contact, knew R.A.M. used drugs, and subjected the children to his criminal activity and other violent people. She also believed it was in the children's ...

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