FROM THE THIRTY-THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
ALLEN, NO. J-2015-028 HONORABLE JOEL G. DAVIS, DISTRICT JUDGE
E. Demoruelle Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: M. H.
Nicholas Pizzolatto, Jr. Department of Children & Family
Services COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana, Department
of Children & Fam. Services
L. Lorenzi, Southwest Louisiana Bar Foundation COUNSEL FOR
APPELLEES: M. H. (child) I. T. (child)
B. Guidry Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: I. H.
(father) Elayn Hunt Correctional Center IN PROPER PERSON
composed of Shannon J. Gremillion, John E. Conery, and David
E. Chatelain [*] , Judges.
SHANNON J. GREMILLION JUDGE
(hereafter, "Father, " to avoid confusion), the
father of four children, appeals the trial court's
judgment terminating his parental rights and certifying his
children free for adoption. Father's attorney has filed a
brief requesting that he be permitted to withdraw from
representing Father pursuant to Anders v.
California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396 (1967),
asserting that there are no non-frivolous issues for appeal.
For the reasons that follow, we grant counsel's motion to
withdraw and affirm the trial court's judgment.
and M.H. (hereafter, "Mother, " to avoid confusion)
are the parents of four children: I.H., age seven (I.H. the
elder); M.H. (M.H. the elder), age five; I.H., age four (I.H.
the younger); and M.H., age two (M.H. the younger). All four
children have either been diagnosed with or show signs of
developmental delays. I.H. the elder and M.H. the elder first
came into the State's custody in May 2012 and were
adjudicated children in need of care on June 14, 2012. I.H.
the younger came into the State's custody within five
weeks of his birth and was adjudicated in need of care on
July 3, 2013, when he was yet only three months old. Custody
of the three children was returned to Mother and Father on
July 24, 2014, after they had completed the requirements of
their case plan, but the Department of Children & Family
Service (the Department) maintained supervision thereafter
for six months, which was extended an additional six months.
M.H. the younger was born on March 18, 2015. On August 3,
2015, however, the court again ordered all four children into
the State's custody.
March 16, 2016, the State filed a petition to terminate the
parental rights of Father and Mother. It alleged that neither
parent has made significant strides toward completing their
case plan requirements, except to the extent that Mother has
regularly visited the children. Father is unable to even do
that, as he is currently incarcerated on drug charges and is
not eligible for release until July 28, 2019.
matter was heard on December 1, 2016. The vast majority of
the testimony centered on Mother's progress-or, more
specifically, her lack thereof- in completing her case plan.
The parties stipulated to the admission of the report of Dr.
Alfred Buxton, Ph.D., a psychologist who evaluated Mother at
the request of the Department. Dr. Buxton opined that,
because of mental disability, Mother is not competent to
manage her own affairs and must rely upon others to assure
her own welfare and to deal with the complexities of daily
living. She can be relied upon only as a secondary caregiver
to her children. He would only recommend the return of the
children to Mother if the Department could ensure that there
was a competent primary caregiver.
Melinda Marcantel, Child Welfare Specialist II with the
Department, testified that she had acted as the case manager
for the children since November 2013. The only component of
her case plan Mother completed was regularly visiting the
children. Father's incarceration prevents him from
completing any component of his case plan. Ms. Marcantel
testified that both Mother and Father had proposed family
members who could serve as suitable caregivers, but the