X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Eric Carson Wynn was finally convicted of sexually assaulting Heather Johnson, who, at about the time of the assault, conceived a child. After his conviction, Wynn initiated this separate proceeding under Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code, the “Uniform Parentage Act,” to establish the parent-child relationship with Johnson’s child. In the same proceeding, however, Wynn alternatively sought DNA testing under Chapter 160 to show that he was not the child’s father, thereby, he argues, undermining the sexual assault conviction. From the trial court’s dismissal of Wynn’s action, and with a limited record, Wynn appeals on the sole issue that the trial court’s dismissal of the action denied Wynn the due process of law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. HOLDING:Affirmed. Wynn cites Texas Government Code �24.016 as authority that he should have been appointed counsel. That section is not applicable, not mandating the appointment of counsel, but merely stating that a court “may appoint counsel” in an appropriate civil case. Texas Family Code �107.013 requires appointment of counsel in parental rights termination cases. That section requires appointment of counsel for indigent parents against whom a government entity seeks termination of their parental rights. This section is also inapplicable to Wynn’s case, because no government entity sought termination of his parental rights. “[W]ithout citing to the source of the quote, Wynn makes his sole constitutional argument:”When deprivation of parental [rights] status is at stake, counsel is part of the process that is due.’ After finding the source of Wynn’s quote, we noticed an important omission from Wynn’s version of the quote. The proper quote is,”When deprivation of parental status is at stake, however, counsel is sometimes part of the process that is due.’ M.L.B. v. S.L.J., 519 U.S. 102, 123 (1996) (emphasis added). The important point is that there is no blanket rule requiring appointment of counsel for indigent parents whose parental rights are being terminated.” Wynn has not been denied due process, because his parental rights, if any, have not been affected. That is because the entire action, including Johnson’s counterclaim for termination of Wynn’s parental rights, was dismissed, along with Wynn’s suit to establish a parent-child relationship and, alternatively, for DNA testing. OPINION:Morriss, C.J.; Morriss, C.J., Ross and Carter, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.