Friday, July 25, 2008

2008-07-25 Texas Supreme Court Delivers Batch of Non-opinions

The Texas high court today upped its opinion production tally for the current Fiscal Year with five more per curiam opinions. This latest installment of per curiams should give the bean-counters pause. All five petitions involved the same legal issue. All five appeals were disposed of with one-liner opinions. Unlike previous cases involving the same issue, they were not consolidated. Should they be counted as five opinions, as one, or as no opinion at all? If anything, the lesson the Court illustrates today is that mere statistics are sometimes meaningless. What matters is substance, of which there is precious little in evidence here.

In today's five identical per curiam "opinions," the Supremes essentially tell us that they decided not to decide an important issue of constitutional dimensions: whether the procedural limitations on the right to appeal the termination of parental rights in Texas passes constitutional muster. The relevant provision in the Texas Family Code requires that the parent whose rights have been terminated file, within 15 days of the judgment, a statement of points he or she intends to raise on appeal. Failure to do so precludes appellate review, according to the plain words of the statute governing appeals from orders terminating the parent-child relationship. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.405(i).

In Interest of SKA, MA, and SA,
No. 07-1045 (Tex. July 25, 2008)(per curiam)(requirement that respondent in parental rights termination case file statement of points to be raised on appeal within 15 days after judgment to preserve right to pursue appeal)
IN THE INTEREST OF S.K.A., M.A. AND S.A., CHILDREN; from Gregg County; 6th district (06-07-00003-CV, 236 SW3d 875, 10-17-07) 2 petitions

FULL TEXT OF PER CURIAM OPINION (case style omitted)

The petition for review is denied. In denying the petition, we neither approve nor disapprove the holding of the court of appeals regarding the constitutionality of Texas Family Code section 263.405(i).


Opinion below: In the Interest of S.K.A., M.A., and S.A., Minor Children (Tex.App.- Texarkana, October 17, 2007

Holding of the Court of Appeals: We find subsection (i)'s procedural bar to review unconstitutional as applied to an indigent parent, who after proper request, was not provided appointed counsel during the critical period before the deadline established in subsection (b). Therefore, we have addressed issues raised in the points of appeal filed immediately after counsel was appointed. On reaching the issues raised on appeal as presented in the statement of points, we overrule each of the points of error.


In Interest of KW and MA, No. 08-0254 (Tex. July 25, 2008) (per curiam) IN THE INTEREST OF K.W. & M.A., CHILDREN; from Tarrant County; 2nd district (02-06-00461-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 02-28-08)

Opinion below: In the Interest of K.W., No. 02-06-00461-CV (Tex.App.- Fort Worth, Feb. 28, 2008)(mem. op.)

Holding of the Court of Appeals:
In her first issue, Natasha argues that section 263.405(i) violates the separation of powers doctrine and the Due Process Clause. In a recent en banc decision, this court held that section 263.405(i) is void as a violation of the separation of powers provision of the Texas constitution. See In re D.W., No. 02-06-00191-CV, 2007 WL 467328, at *12 (Tex. App.- Fort Worth Feb. 19, 2008, no pet. h.). We therefore sustain Natasha's first issue.[5] * * *Having sustained Natasha's first issue, but having overruled her second through fourth issues and not reaching her fifth issue, we affirm the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to K.W. and M.A.

In Interest of DW, TW, and SG, No. 08-0258 (Tex. July 25, 2008)(per curiam) IN THE INTEREST OF D.W., T.W. AND S.G., CHILDREN; from Tarrant County; 2nd district (02-06-00191-CV, 249 SW3d 625, 02-19-08) Per Curiam Opinion

In Interest of JJ, No. 08-0299 (Tex. July 25, 2008)(per curiam)
IN THE INTEREST OF J.J., A CHILD; from Tarrant County; 2nd district (02-06-00333-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 03-06-08) 2 petitions
Per Curiam Opinion

In Interest of DF, No. 08-0378 (Tex. 25, 2008)(per curiam)
IN THE INTEREST OF D.F., A CHILD; from Tarrant County; 2nd district (02-07-00056-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 03-27-08)
Per Curiam Opinion

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