in the Interest of A.E.J. and V.N.J., Minor Children

NUMBER 13-19-00406-CV COURT OF APPEALS THIRTEENTH DISTRICT OF TEXAS CORPUS CHRISTI – EDINBURG IN THE INTEREST OF A.E.J. AND V.N.J., MINOR CHILDREN On appeal from the 430th District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas. MEMORANDUM OPINION Before Chief Justice Contreras and Justices Longoria and Perkes Memorandum Opinion by Chief Justice Contreras This appeal concerns the trial court’s order terminating the parental rights to minor children A.E.J. and V.N.J. The biological mother of the children, appellant E.J., contends by four issues that (1) her constitutional rights were violated, and (2–4) the evidence was legally and factually insufficient to support the trial court’s findings. Court-appointed appellate counsel for the children’s biological father, appellant J.B.J., has filed a brief stating he has identified no arguable grounds for appeal. We affirm. I. BACKGROUND The two female children subject to these proceedings were born on June 30, 2012, and May 7, 2014. At a final hearing before an associate judge on July 13, 2018, J.B.J. testified that he was serving the first year of a twenty-two year prison sentence for causing injury to a child. He signed an affidavit voluntarily relinquishing his parental rights to A.E.J. and V.N.J. J.B.J. stated that the terms of the affidavit were read and explained to him; that all the facts in the affidavit were correct; that he understood the relinquishment was final and irrevocable; that he initialed and signed the affidavit freely and voluntarily; and that no one offered him anything or promised him anything in exchange for his signature. When asked by the children’s attorney ad litem whether he felt “forced or pressured” to sign the affidavit because he was incarcerated, J.B.J. replied that he did not. J.B.J. further denied that the blood pressure, depression, and epilepsy medications he was then taking would prevent him from understanding what he was signing. A copy of the affidavit was entered into evidence. After several continuances, the hearing resumed on February 1, 2019. J.B.J. testified that, in addition to the two children at issue in this case, he has an older daughter, M.J., with a different mother. When M.J. was five months old, J.B.J. and M.J.’s mother agreed that M.J. would live with her maternal grandparents. M.J. later came to live with appellants when she was five years old. M.J. was eleven years old at the time of trial.1 J.B.J. stated that appellee, the Department of Family and Protective Services (the Department), first became involved in his life when M.J.’s maternal grandparents reported him and E.J. for refusing to allow them to visit with M.J. Department investigators then 1 J.B.J. agreed that his parental rights to M.J. were subject to termination in a separate proceeding. 2 interviewed appellants. During the course of the interview, appellants were asked about severe injuries M.J. had sustained to her buttocks. At the time, J.B.J. told investigators that the child “had fallen off the jeep”—but he acknowledged at the hearing that this was false and in fact he and E.J. “didn’t know what happened” to cause M.J.’s ...

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