I. Case Law Update

Each year, DFPS produces a case law update of select child protection cases. The 2018 Termination Case Law Update was prepared by the DFPS Appellate Unit: Michael Becker, Leslie Capace. Brenda Kinsler, Jerry Reyes, Rebecca Safavi, Eric Tai, and Mark Zuniga.

The 2018 update includes the following cases:

JURISDICTION

In re L.S., S.V., and C.W., No. 06-17-00113-CV, (Tex. App.—Texarkana Mar. 9, 2018, no pet.).

JURY ISSUES

Striking Jury Demand: In re L.G.T., No. 04-17-00526-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio Jan. 10, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

Allocation of Jury Strikes: S.B. v. Texas Dep’t of Family and Protective Servs., No. 03-17-00431-CV (Tex. App.—Austin Dec. 22, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.).

Batson Challenge: D. G. v. Texas Dep’t of Family and Protective Services, No 03-17-00366-CV (Tex. App.—Austin Oct. 26, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.).

CONDUCT OF PROCEEDINGS

In re K.R., A.R., and G.L.C., No. 13-17-00281-CV (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Oct. 26, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.).

JUDICIAL BIAS

In re L.S., No. 02-17-00132-CV (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Sept. 21, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.).

PRE-TRIAL MATTERS

Immunizations Over Objection of Parents: In re Womack, No. 10-17-00336-CV, (Tex. App. —Waco 2017, orig. proceeding [mand. pending]).

Right to Appointed Counsel: N.T. v. Texas Dep’t of Family and Protective Services, No. 03-17-00573-CV (Tex. App.—Austin Nov. 29, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.).

TERMINATION GROUNDS

TFC § 161.001(b)(1)(C)

R.M. v. D.R. and B.R., No. 03-17-00605-CV (Tex. App.—Austin Mar. 6, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.) (father’s parental rights terminated in private case which alleged father voluntarily left child alone without providing adequate support and remained away for at least six months. COA stated that the six-month minimum is a period of six months consecutively).

TFC § 161.001(b)(1)(D)

In re K.A.R., No. 04-17-00723-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio Apr. 11, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.) (Parent knowingly placed or allowed the child in conditions or surroundings which endangered the child’s physical or emotional well-being). Also, In re A.M., No. 07-17-00094-CV (Tex. App.—Amarillo Sept. 21, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.); In re A.M., No. 07-17-00094-CV (Tex. App.—Amarillo Sept. 21, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.) (mother’s ingesting drugs that affected her ability to stay awake and care for child had potential for endangering the child).

TFC § 161.001(b)(1)(E)

In re W.R.C., No. 10-17-00250-CV (Tex. App.—Waco Dec. 20, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (threats, comments and actions show course of conduct that endangers child’s emotional well-being). Also, In re A.R.M., No. 05-17-00539-CV (Tex. App.—Dallas Mar. 30, 2018, pet. pending) (mem. op.) (evidence suggesting that Mother coached Daughter to make false sex abuse outcries, otherwise attempted to undermine relationship between Father and Daughter, and violated both court orders and supervised visitation rules supports the endangerment finding); In re Z.O., No. 02-17-00166-CV (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Sept. 7, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (emotional abuse alone supports endangerment finding); In re B.F., P.M.F. a/k/a P.F., No. 14-17-00421-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 16, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (presence of drugs in child’s system harmed child); In re G.H., No. 02-17-00193-CV (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Oct. 19, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (lack of income not excuse for neglect); In re K.K.D.B., No. 14-17-00302-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 5, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.) (court not required to ignore old criminal history).

TFC § 161.001(b)(1)(N)

In re R.I.D. and L.J.M., 543 S.W.3d 422 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2018, no pet.) (inability provide safe environment); Also, In re J.G.S., No. 08-17-00192-CV (Tex. App.—El Paso Feb. 14, 2018, no pet.) (Reasonable Efforts shown in absence of service plan); In re F.E.N., 542 S.W.3d 752 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2018, no pet.) (reasonable efforts not shown in absence of service plan).

DIRECT OR COLLATERAL ATTACH ON TERMINATION ORDER

TFC § 161.211(c) In re K.S.L., 538 S.W.3d 107 (Tex. 2017) (Regardless of what a trial court must find under TFC § 161.001, TFC § 161.211(c) limits appellate review to fraud, duress, and coercion); Also, In re R.P.R., Jr., No. 14-17-00760-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] March 1, 2018, pet. filed) (mem. op.) (complaint that the affidavit of relinquishment does not comply with TFC § 161.013 barred by TFC § 161.211(c)); In re D.S. and In the Matter of the Marriage of G.S. and A.G., Nos. 05-17-01066-CV and 05-17-01068-CV, (Tex. App.—Dallas Apr. 18, 2018, no pet. h.) (collateral attack on the termination order based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction is not barred by TFC § 161.211(c)).

BEST INTEREST – HOLLEY FACTORS

A. Desires of the Child

Behavioral Issues - In re J.C.C., Jr., L.H.M.C., and J.Z.M., No. 04-17-00120-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio Aug. 30, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.); see also In re A.F. and A.F., No. 14-17-00394-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 19, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.) (trial court can properly consider the continued damaging consequences the children suffered from time spent with their parents under the desires factor).

Negative Impact of Failing to Visit - In re E.J.M., No. 04-17-00569-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio Jan. 3, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

B. Emotional and Physical Needs and Emotional and Physical Danger

Misdemeanor Criminal Convictions - In re C.M., Jr., No. 14-17-00507-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 30, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.)

Failure to Protect from Drug Use Due to Incarceration - In re L.J.T., No. 04-17-00567-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio Feb. 28, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

Evidence of Termination Improving Children’s Situation Not Sufficient - In re J.E.M.M. and L.A.M.M., 532 S.W.3d 874 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, no pet.).

Allowing Lapse of Medicaid Supports Inability to Provide for Emotional and Physical Needs - C.S. v. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, No. 03-17-00229-CV (Tex. App.—Austin Aug. 9, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.)

C. Parent Abilities

Children Running Away at Parent’s Request - In re H.L.H., No. 10-16-00254-CV (Tex. App.—Waco Mar. 14, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

Parent Unable to Learn from Classes - In re S.J.R.-Z, J.C.Z., A.R.Z., I.L.L., K.K.H., and J.G.H. III, 537 S.W.3d 677 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2017, no pet.).

D. Stability of Proposed Placement

Providing Name of Possible Kinship Placement Not Sufficient - In re D.D.P., C.L.C., E.L.C., and J.M.J., No. 04-17-00444-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio April 4, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

CONSERVATORSHIP

A. TFC § 153.131 - Conservatorship

In re R.F., Jr., No. 04-17-00582-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio Mar. 14, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.) (trial court did not abuse discretion in refusing to appoint father as managing conservator instead of possessory because father knew of mother’s behavior and activities which significantly impaired the child’s physical health or emotional development).

B. Specificity in Visitation Order

In re A.N. and I.R.N., No. 10-16-00394-CV (Tex. App.—Waco Sept. 13, 2017, no pet.) (mem. op.).

C. Jury Question

In re J.W.G., No. 14-17-00389-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 9, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.).

POST-TRIAL MATTERS

A. De Novo Mandatory

In re R.R., 537 S.W.3d 621 (Tex. App.—Austin 2017, orig. proceeding).

B. Parent Lacks Standing to Challenge Attorney Ad Litem Representation

In re B.M., J.M., D.M., and L.M., No. 13-17-00467-CV (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Nov. 30, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.); see also In re J.E.G., A.R.G., P.N., Jr., and R.I.N., No. 06-17-00064-CV (Tex. App.—Texarkana Oct. 6, 2017, pet. denied) (mem. op.) (concluding Mother lacked standing under doctrine of virtual representation to proceed with ineffective assistance claim against children’s attorney ad litem because her interests were not aligned with those of children).

C. TFC § 161.211(a) – Bill of Review

In re M.E., No. 07-16-00039-CV (Tex. App.—Amarillo Jan. 8, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT

A. Intervention by Tribe

In re J.J.T., 544 S.W.3d 874 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2017, no pet.).

B. Necessity of Expert Witness

S.P. v. Texas Dep’t of Family and Protective Services, No. 03-17-00698-CV (Tex. App.—Austin Mar. 9, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).

You can link to the 2018 DFPS case law update here:

http://texaschildrenscommission.gov/media/83944/2018-termination-case-law-update-bench-book-et.pdf