Meanwhile, back on factual sufficiency review

Meanwhile, back on factual sufficiency review

Originally published by David Coale.

After the 2018 election, an LPCH colleague and I wrote about the potential for renewed interest in “factual sufficiency” review–closely related to “legal sufficiency” review, but placed in the exclusive jurisdiction of the intermediate courts of appeal under the state constitution.

An example appeared in In re C.V.L., where a panel majority reversed the termination of a parent-child relationship in a factual sufficiency review: “[E]vidence that Father used methamphetamines twice during the underlying proceedings and Bonds’ unsubstantiated belief that Father will use drugs again in the future because he used drugs twice in the past is not enough under a factual sufficiency review to permanently deprive Father and child of a relationship when weighed against all of the contrary, uncontroverted evidence presented at trial and the strong presumption that a child’s best interests are served by maintaining the parent–child relationship.” 

A dissent saw the court of appeals’ role differently: “This case presents important questions regarding an appellate court’s ability to second guess a factfinder’s pivotal credibility determinations in a termination case given the supreme court’s admonition that despite the heightened standard of review in termination cases, courts of appeals must nevertheless still provide due deference to the factfinder’s credibility determinations.” No. 05-19-00506-CV  (Dec. 13, 2019, pet. filed) (mem. op.)

Factual sufficiency review in this type of family-law case involves unique issues that may not arise in commercial disputes, but the case is still an important example of how this standard works in practice.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.