In re T.C.

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Appellate case number: 01-17-00497-CV (Tex. App. Sep. 13, 2018)

Appellate case number: 01-17-00497-CV Appellate case number: 01-17-00498-CV


In the Interest of T.C., a Child; and In the Interest of T.L.C., a Child

ORDER OF ABATEMENT Trial court case number: 2014-71072, and 2011-08360 Trial court: 309th District Court of Harris County

Appellant, C.C., has filed a notice of appeal of the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to her minor child, T.C., and a notice of appeal of the trial court's order awarding father sole managing conservatorship and appellant possessory conservatorship of their minor child, T.L.C. On August 30, 2018, we affirmed the trial court's orders. See In re T.LC., No. 01-17-00498-CV, 2018 WL 4139004 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Aug. 30, 2018, no pet. h.) (mem. op.); In re T.C., No. 01-17-00497-CV, 2018 WL 4126600 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Aug. 30, 2018, no pet. h.) (mem. op.). Appellant and her court-appointed counsel, William Thursland, have filed an unopposed motion to abate the appeals to allow the trial court to determine whether he may withdraw as counsel for appellant and she may proceed pro se.

Appellant's right to counsel in these proceedings continues through all proceedings in the Supreme Court of Texas. See TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. §§ 107.013(a)(1), 107.016(3) (Vernon Supp. 2017); In re P.M., 520 S.W.3d 24, 27 (Tex. 2016). Once appointed by the trial court, counsel should be permitted to withdraw only for good cause and on appropriate terms and conditions. In re P.M., 520 S.W.3d at 27. And, if a trial court permits a parent to proceed pro se, "the trial court must inform the parent of the dangers of self-representation." In re R.H., No. 01-14-00874-CV, 2015 WL 4594557, at *7 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] July 28, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing In re C.L.S., 403 S.W.3d 15, 19-22 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, pet. denied)).

Accordingly, we grant the motion, abate the appeals, and remand the cases to the trial court. The trial court is directed to immediately hold a hearing, at which appellant, her appointed counsel, William Thursland, counsel for appellee, Department of Family and Protective Services, and attorney ad litem for the children, Samantha Davis, are present to determine whether appellant's appointed counsel should be permitted to withdraw. If counsel is permitted to withdraw, the trial court shall determine whether appellant may proceed to pro se, after advising her of the dangers of self-representation, or shall appoint new counsel to represent appellant in further proceedings. The trial court shall have a court reporter, or court recorder, record the hearing.

The trial court clerk shall file a supplemental clerk's record containing any written findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding these issues, and orders permitting appointed counsel to withdraw, appointing new counsel, or allowing appellant to proceed pro se. And, the court reporter shall file a reporter's record of the hearing. These records shall be filed with the Clerk of this Court no later than 14 days from the date of this order.

It is so ORDERED. Judge's signature: /s/ Terry Jennings

Acting for the Court Panel consists of Justices Jennings, Keyes, and Higley Date: September 13, 2018

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