Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE INTEREST OF S.M.P.M. and N.J.M., Jr., Children
the 288th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2018-PA-00964 Honorable Richard Garcia, Judge
Sitting: Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice Patricia O. Alvarez,
Justice Beth Watkins, Justice.
S.C. appeals the trial court's order terminating her
parental rights to her children, S.M.P.M. and N.J.M., Jr. On
appeal, SC contends the evidence is legally and factually
insufficient to support the trial court's finding that
termination of her parental rights was in her children's
best interests. We affirm the trial court's order of
gave birth to N.J.M., Jr. on April 30, 2018. The next day,
Edward Gentry, a caseworker with the Texas Department of
Family and Protective Services ("the Department"),
went to the hospital to see N.J.M., Jr. after receiving a
report that N.J.M., Jr. displayed symptoms of drug exposure.
When asked about her own positive drug test, SC denied using
drugs during her pregnancy but told Gentry that cocaine was
in her system because she had recently touched it. Gentry
attempted to place N.J.M., Jr. and S.C.'s one-year-old
daughter, S.M.P.M., with family, but none of S.C.'s
family members could care for the children. The Department
filed a petition to terminate S.C.'s parental rights and
placed S.M.P.M. with a foster family. After his release from
the hospital, the Department placed N.J.M., Jr. with the same
Department created a family service plan for S.C. During the
pendency of this case, SC was twice arrested for possession
of a controlled substance. Due to concerns regarding
S.C.'s drug use, the Department pursued termination of
S.C.'s parental rights.
trial court held a one-day bench trial at which S.C. appeared
from prison by video conference. The trial court heard
testimony from two Department caseworkers, the foster mother,
and S.C. The trial court terminated S.C.'s parental
rights, and this appeal followed.
terminate parental rights under section 161.001 of the Texas
Family Code ("the Code"), the Department bears the
burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence one of the
predicate grounds in subsection 161.001(b)(1) and that
termination is in the best interest of the child.
See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 161.001; In re
A.V., 113 S.W.3d 355, 362 (Tex. 2003). "Clear and
convincing evidence" is defined as "proof that will
produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or
conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be
established." Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 101.007. Courts
require this heightened standard of review because
termination of a parent's rights to a child results in
permanent and severe changes for both the parent and child,
implicating due process concerns. In re E.A.G., 373
S.W.3d 129, 140 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2012, pet. denied).
reviewing the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence,
we apply well-established standards of review. See
Tex. Fam. Code §§ 101.007, 161.206(a); In re
J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 263 (Tex. 2002). To determine
whether the Department produced clear and convincing
evidence, a legal sufficiency review requires us to
"'look at all the evidence in the light most
favorable to the finding to determine whether a reasonable
trier of fact could have formed a firm belief or conviction
that its finding was true.'" In re J.L.,
163 S.W.3d 79, 85 (Tex. 2005) (quoting In re J.F.C.,
96 S.W.3d at 266). If the court "'determines [a]
reasonable factfinder could form a firm belief or conviction
that the matter that must be proven is true, '" the
evidence is legally sufficient. Id. (quoting In
re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266).
factual sufficiency review requires us to also consider the
disputed evidence. In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d at 266.
We must consider whether disputed evidence is such that a
reasonable fact finder could have resolved that disputed
evidence in favor of its finding. Id. If, in light
of the entire record, the disputed evidence that a reasonable
fact finder could not have credited in favor of the finding
is so significant that the fact finder could not reasonably
have formed a firm belief or conviction, then the evidence is
factually insufficient. Id. Under both standards,
the trial court is the sole judge of the weight and
credibility of the evidence. In re E.X.G., No.
04-18-00659-CV, 2018 WL 6516057, at *1 (Tex. App.-San Antonio
Dec. 12, 2018, pet denied) (mem. op.).