IN RE YASIEL R., et al., SC 19372

Judicial District of Windham

 

†††† †Termination of Parental Rights; Whether Golding Test for Prevailing on Unpreserved Constitutional Claim Requires Binding Precedent to Establish Existence of Constitutional Violation; Whether Due Process Requires that Trial Court Canvass Parent Personally About Decision not to Contest Exhibits Admitted Against her in Termination Proceeding. The Department of Children and Families filed petitions seeking termination of the respondent motherís parental rights with respect to her two minor children.† A contested hearing was scheduled, but the motherís attorney stated that the mother had agreed to the let the court decide the petitions ďon the papersĒ and that she did not object to any of the departmentís exhibits.† The trial court subsequently rendered judgments granting the termination petitions.† On appeal to the Appellate Court, the mother claimed that the trial court violated her due process rights by failing to canvass her regarding her decisions not to contest the exhibits that the department presented against her and to waive her right to a full trial so as to ensure that her decisions were made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently.† Because the mother did not raise that claim before the trial court, she sought review under State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233 (1989), which sets forth the circumstances under which a party may prevail on an unpreserved constitutional claim.† The Appellate Court (151 Conn. App. 710) affirmed the judgments, holding that the mother failed to satisfy the Golding requirement that a constitutional violation clearly occurred and clearly deprived her of a fair trial.† The Appellate Court noted that although the mother cited to cases from other jurisdictions, she could not satisfy her burden of showing a clear constitutional violation because there was no Connecticut precedent supporting the proposition that a parent has a constitutional right to be personally canvassed at the trial stage of a termination proceeding.The mother appeals from the Appellate Courtís decision, and the Supreme Court will consider (1) whether the Appellate Court properly construed the third prong of Golding to require that there be binding precedent that is directly on point for a constitutional violation clearly to exist such that relief can be afforded an appellant, and (2) whether the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution requires that a trial court canvass a parent personally about his or her decision not to contest the exhibits presented to the court against him or her in a parental termination proceeding.