With today’s order list, the Texas Supreme Court issued one per curiam opinion explaining why it denied review in a series of child-custody cases.

The Court did not grant any new cases for review.

  • In re D.N.C., No. 07-0621, -consolidated with-, In re T.L.J. and T.B.J., No. 07-0622, -consolidated with-, In re T.J.C. and T.D.C., No. 07-0623, -consolidated with-, In re E.D.C., No. 07-0624, -consolidated with-, In re J.D.M., No. 07-0625. Per curiam on denial of petition for review.

    The Department of Family and Protective Services sought termination of a parent’s right to her seven children — leading to these five appeals.

    The court of appeals reversed the termination order.

    The Department here contends reversal of the conservatorship order was erroneous under our recent decision in In the Interest of J.A.J., ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2007). In J.A.J., however, the Department requested conservatorship pursuant to Family Code section 153.131 and the trial court made the specific findings that the statute requires: that appointment of a parent as J.A.J.’s managing conservator would not be in his best interest because it would significantly impair his physical health or emotional development, and that appointment of the Department was in J.A.J.’s best interest. Id. at ___. In light of these findings, we emphasized that the differing elements and standards of review applied to conservatorship and termination orders required separate challenges on appeal. Id. at ___. In this case, by comparison, the only available statutory mechanism for the Department’s appointment was as a consequence of the termination pursuant to section 161.207. See Tex. Fam. Code § 161.207. Accordingly, J.A.J. does not apply, and Colbert’s challenge to the conservatorship appointment was subsumed in her appeal of the parental-rights termination order.

    The Department’s petition for reviews are denied.

The Texas Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re J.A.J. on November 2, 2007 — the same day it asked for expedited briefing in these five consolidated cases. ((For those of you who read my earlier post about the timing of the Court’s requests for briefing on the merits, this set of cases was the aberration noted in footnote 4. In retrospect, this was no aberration at all. It is clear that the Court was waiting to issue J.A.J. before issuing these briefing requests so that the parties would be able to react to that new decision in their briefs.))