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Family Law Click here for the full text of this decision No. 13-02-615-CV, 7/17/2003. FACTS: On Oct. 15, 2001, J.G. was placed on intensive supervision probation for a period of 12 months. By the terms of his probation, J.G. was required to report four times a week to his probation officer, enroll in and attend school, not associate with adjudicated delinquents, comply with curfew requirements, and complete community service time. On Aug. 31, 2002, J.G. was taken into custody pursuant to a warrant which was issued because of J.G.’s alleged failure to report to his probation officer. On Oct. 3, 2002, the state’s motion to revoke probation was heard. During the hearing on the merits or facts, J.G.’s probation officer, Kelley Arneke, testified regarding J.G.’s probation violations. Arneke referred to J.G.’s case file as he testified. Also during the hearing, Rise Konarik, a Victoria Independent School District (V.I.S.D.) student attendance officer, testified while referencing J.G.’s V.I.S.D. attendance report. The attendance report was admitted into evidence. Following the hearing on the merits or facts, the trial court proceeded to the disposition phase of the hearing. During this phase, the court heard testimony regarding J.G.’s previous juvenile record, and a juvenile probation officer recommended rehabilitation for J.G. The court then committed J.G. to the custody of the Texas Youth Commission. HOLDING: Affirmed. By his first issue, J.G. contends the trial court erred in admitting the V.I.S.D. attendance report and the juvenile probation department’s report into evidence during the hearing on the merits or facts of the state’s motion to modify disposition. A hearing to modify disposition for a juvenile is divided into two distinct phases. Texas Family Code �54.05(e). The first phase of the trial is a fact-finding, adjudicative trial on the merits. This phase establishes the reason, if any, for modifying the disposition. The second phase of the trial is a data-gathering phase to assist in formulating the appropriate disposition for the juvenile. Section 54.05(e) of the family code limits the written reports the trial court may consider during the first phase, the hearing on the merits or facts for a motion to modify disposition of a juvenile probationer. Section 54.05(e) states that “after the hearing on the merits or facts, the court may consider written reports from probation officers, professional court employees, or professional consultants in addition to the testimony of other witnesses.” The plain language of this statute prohibits a juvenile court from considering written reports from probation officers and professional consultants until after the hearing on the merits or facts has been conducted. The purpose of this split hearing system is to require the juvenile court to adjudge the violation of a condition of probation without knowing the possibly prejudicial material contained in the reports written by probation officers, professional court employees or professional consultants. J.G. complains the trial court erred by admitting V.I.S.D.’s attendance report into evidence during the hearing on the merits or facts because the written attendance report was prepared by a professional consultant. J.G. characterizes Konarik, a V.I.S.D. student attendance officer, as a professional consultant. The Texas Legislature did not define “professional consultant” in the family code, �54.05(e), and there is little case law construing the definition of “professional consultant.” Moreover, a Texas Youth Commission assistant superintendent, who was described as a trained professional who interacted with a juvenile, has also been characterized as a professional consultant. A general definition of “professional consultant” is one who gives expert or professional advice as a source of livelihood, or one who has great skill at giving expert or professional advice. Konarik was not a social worker, and the record does not show that she interacted with J.G. Konarik testified that she was merely the custodian of the attendance records for V.I.S.D. The court concludes, therefore, under the facts of this case, that Konarik, a student attendance officer who was custodian of the school’s attendance records, is not a professional consultant. OPINION: Rodriguez, J.; Valdez, C.J., Rodriguez and Castillo, JJ.

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