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Juvenile Law

Juvenile Law Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4604

AC44496 - In re Karter F. (Termination of parental rights; "The respondent father, Charles W. (respondent), appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families (commissioner), terminating his parental rights with respect to his minor child, Karter F., pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j). On appeal, the respondent claims that in terminating his parental rights, the trial court improperly found that (1) the department made reasonable efforts to reunify him with his child and that he was unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification services, (2) he had failed to rehabilitate, and (3) it was in the best interests of the child to terminate his parental rights. We disagree with the respondent and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Juvenile Law Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4568

AC44405, AC44497 - In re Annessa J. ("In Docket No. AC 44405, the respondent mother (mother) appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating her parental rights to, and denying her motion for posttermination visitation with, her minor child, Annessa J. On appeal, the mother claims that the trial court (1) violated her right to a "public civil trial at common law" by conducting proceedings over the Microsoft Teams platform, rather than in court and in person, in violation of article fifth, § 1, and article first, § 10, of the Connecticut constitution, (2) violated her right to due process of law by precluding her from confronting witnesses in court and in person when it conducted proceedings over the Microsoft Teams platform, and (3) violated her right to due process of law when it denied her motion for permission to allow her expert witness to review certain information. We are not persuaded.

In Docket No. AC 44497, the respondent father (father) appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating his parental rights to, and denying his motion for posttermination visitation with, his minor child, Annessa. On appeal, the father claims that the trial court improperly concluded that (1) the Department of Children and Families (department) had made reasonable efforts to reunify him with his daughter, (2) there was sufficient evidence to conclude that he was unable or unwilling to rehabilitate, and (3) termination of his parental rights was in the best interest of Annessa. We are not persuaded.

In addition, in Docket Nos. AC 44405 and AC 44497, the mother and the father, respectively, claim that the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard when it considered their posttermination motions for visitation with Annessa. We are persuaded that the court employed an improper standard, and, accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court as to the denial of the posttermination motions for visitation, and we remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings on those motions.")


Habeas Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4536

AC44413 - In re Naomi (On appeal, she claims, for the first time, that the trial court violated her fundamental right to direct the health care decisions and religious upbringing of her child by allowing the commissioner to consent to Naomi’s nonemergency surgery over the respondent’s religious objection. The respondent unsuccessfully sought a stay of the trial court’s order, and the commissioner reported that, on January 13, 2021, Naomi successfully underwent the surgery. Because this court can no longer grant any practical relief to the parties and the case does not meet the criteria for the ‘capable of repetition, yet evading review’ exception to the mootness doctrine, we dismiss the appeal as moot.)


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4471

AC44346 - In re Sequoia G. ("The respondent mother, Michelle L., appeals from the judgments of the trial court terminating her parental rights with respect to her minor children, Sequoia, Benjamin and Anice. On appeal, the respondent claims that the court improperly found that it was in the best interests of the children to terminate her parental rights.We disagree with the respondent and, accordingly, affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Habeas Slip Appellate Court Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4449

AC44233, AC44237 - In re Jacob M. ("The respondents both claim that the court improperly (1) denied their joint motion for a mistrial, (2) concluded that the Department of Children and Families (department) made reasonable efforts to reunify them with their children or child and (3) concluded that they were unwilling or unable to benefit from reunification efforts. In Docket No. AC 44233, the father additionally claims that the court improperly concluded that (1) the termination of his parental rights was in the best interest of his son, Jacob, and (2) it lacked the authority to grant posttermination contact. In Docket No. AC 44237, the mother additionally claims that the court improperly denied her postjudgment motion to intervene. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinions

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4445

AC43916 - In re Skylar B. ("On appeal, the respondent claims that the court deprived him of his right to substantive due process as guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution because transfer of guardianship is a less restrictive means than termination of his parental rights to achieve permanency. We conclude that the record is inadequate to review the respondent’s claim and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


AC44201- In re Angela V. (On appeal, the respondent claims that the court violated her right to the due process of law when it denied the motion for permission to call the two older minor children as witnesses, which was filed by the respondent father and later joined by the respondent. Following the parties’ appellate oral argument, we requested supplemental briefs addressing whether the respondent’s claim was moot in light of her failure to challenge one of the independent grounds of the trial court’s denial of the motion to have the two older children testify. Having considered the supplemental briefs of the parties5 and the record in this case, we conclude that the respondent’s claim is moot. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.”)


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Agati, Taryn

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4386

AC43959 - In re Riley B. (Termination of parental rights; "The respondent mother, Jacquanita B., appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, terminating her parental rights with respect to her minor daughter, Riley B. On appeal, the respondent argues that the court deprived her of substantive due process as guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution because there was no compelling reason, as required under the strict scrutiny standard, to sever the respondent's liberty interest in the integrity of her family while the parties waited to learn whether guardianship of the child could be transferred to a maternal relative in New Jersey. We conclude that the record is inadequate to review the respondent's unpreserved constitutional claim. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4385

AC44264 - In re Kiara Liz V. (Termination of parental rights; "The respondent father, Luis V., appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families (commissioner), terminating his parental rights as to his minor child, Kiara Liz V. (Kiara), pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112. On appeal, the respondent claims that the court (1) improperly denied his request for a continuance and (2) erred in determining that the termination of his parental rights was in the best interests of Kiara. We disagree, and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4329

AC44186 - In re Miyuki M. (“On appeal, the respondent claims that (1) the court’s failure to canvass her regarding her written stipulation of facts violates her right to due process under the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution, constitutes plain error, and requires the exercise of our supervisory authority, and (2) the court erred in denying her motion to transfer guardianship of her child to the child’s maternal grandmother. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.”)


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4326

AC44060 - In re Phoenix A. (Reasonable efforts prong of § 17a-112 (j) (1); claim of failure to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation; “On appeal, the respondent claims that the court erred by (1) finding that he was unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification services, (2) finding that he had failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation, and (3) determining that termination of his parental rights was in the best interest of Phoenix. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinions

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4318

AC44079 - In re Kameron N.. (Termination of rights; “…whether the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (tribe) received proper notice, pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., of the termination of parental rights proceedings involving the child, who is enrollable as a member of the tribe. We reject the claim of the respondent that the tribe did not receive adequate notice of the termination proceedings and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.”)

AC44086 - In re Kameron N. (“On appeal, she claims that (1) the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (tribe) did not receive proper notice, pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., of the termination of parental rights proceedings involving the child, who is enrollable as a member of the tribe, (2) the trial court erred in denying her motion to open the evidence ‘‘for the purpose of introducing new evidence, which was discovered after the close of evidence, regarding placement of the child,’’ and (3) the trial court erred in finding that termination was in the child’s best interest. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.”)


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4304

AC43892 - In re Marcquan C. (Motion to revoke commitment; "The respondent mother, Monica C., appeals from the trial court's order requiring her to participate in a psychological evaluation. The court ordered the evaluation immediately after it denied the respondent's motion to revoke commitment with respect to her minor child, Marcquan C. The respondent does not challenge on appeal the judgment denying her motion to revoke commitment. Her appeal is limited to her claim that the court abused its discretion by compelling her to participate in the psychological evaluation. We do not reach the respondent's claim because we agree with the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, that the order for a psychological evaluation was not part of the court's judgment denying the respondent's motion to revoke commitment and is not otherwise an appealable final judgment. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.")


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4282

AC44096 - In re Josiah D. (“On appeal, the father does not challenge the trial court’s findings and conclusions but claims that (1) the court committed reversible error by failing to notify him that it would be drawing an adverse inference from his decision not to testify in accordance with Practice Book § 35a-7A and In re Samantha C., 268 Conn. 614, 847 A.2d 883 (2004), and (2) this court should exercise its supervisory authority to adopt a canvass requiring the trial court to notify the father that the court would draw an adverse inference upon his decision not to testify. The petitioner counters that the court properly notified the father in accordance with Practice Book § 35a-7A, but if this court determines that the court’s notice was improper, the error was harmless, as it did not adversely affect the outcome of the trial. We conclude that the court properly notified the father that it may draw an adverse inference from his decision not to testify and decline the father’s invitation to exercise our supervisory authority to require any notice beyond what is required by Practice Book § 35a-7A. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.”)


Habeas Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4279

SC20281 - Ross v. Commissioner of Correction (“The petitioner claims that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that the doctrine of collateral estoppel barred him from litigating the issue of whether he was prejudiced by his trial counsel’s failure to object to the improper comments of the prosecutor during closing argument at his criminal trial. The respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, argues that the Appellate Court correctly held that the doctrine precluded the petitioner from litigating the issue of prejudice. In the alternative, the respondent contends that the judgment of the Appellate Court may be affirmed on the basis that the petitioner has failed to demonstrate that he suffered prejudice from his criminal trial counsel’s allegedly deficient performance. Although we conclude that the doctrine of collateral estoppel does not apply under the circumstances of the present case, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court on the ground that the petitioner has failed to demonstrate prejudice.”)


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4269

AC44120 - In re November H. (Connecticut General Statute § 17a-112 (j) (3); whether father lacked normal and healthy parent-child bond with child; “On appeal, the respondent claims that (1) the court made internally inconsistent statements regarding his parent-child relationship with November, (2) there was insufficient evidence supporting the court’s determination that he failed to sufficiently rehabilitate, (3) as a matter of law, the court, in terminating his parental rights, improperly relied on its finding that additional time was necessary for him and November to develop a ‘‘normal and healthy’’ parent-child relationship when the petitioner and November’s mother, Natachia G., interfered with his ability to develop such a relationship, and (4) the court improperly compared him to November’s foster parent in the adjudicatory part of its decision. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.”)


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinions

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4233

AC44072 - In re Ja'La L. ("The respondent, Shanea L., appeals from the judgments of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, terminating her parental rights with respect to her daughters, Ja'La L. and Ja'Myiaha L., on the ground that the respondent has failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3) (B) (i). On appeal, the respondent concedes that the evidence was sufficient to prove an adjudicatory ground, but claims that the court improperly concluded that termination was in the best interests of the children. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.")

AC44006 - In re Miracle C. ("The respondent mother, Priscilla W., appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating her parental rights with respect to her minor child, M. On appeal, she claims that the court erroneously concluded that the Department of Children and Families (department) had made reasonable efforts at reunification, pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (1). The respondent does not claim that the court erred in its additional conclusion that she was unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification efforts. Because the respondent challenges only one of the two bases for the court's determination that § 17a-112 (j) (1) had been satisfied, we conclude that the respondent's appeal is moot. . . .The appeal is dismissed.")


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4225

AC43710 - In re Ja'maire M (“On appeal, the respondent claims that, in terminating his parental rights, the trial court improperly relied on a finding that the child was neglected, which was made at a previous proceeding at which the respondent was not present. Because the respondent’s appeal constitutes an impermissible collateral attack on the neglect judgment, we affirm the judgment of the trial court terminating his parental rights.”)


Juvenile Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Townsend, Karen

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4219

AC43883 - In re D'Andre T. (Termination of parental rights on the grounds of failure to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3) (B) (i). "On appeal, the respondent does not challenge the underlying factual findings of the trial court but claims that the court denied her a fundamentally fair proceeding by treating her motion to transfer guardianship to her sister, Carmen B., with less regard than the petitions to terminate her parental rights. The respondent urges us to use our supervisory authority over the administration of justice to reverse the judgments terminating her parental rights and denying her motion to transfer guardianship, to award her a new trial, and to obligate the trial court to apply a new procedural rule that would require the Superior Court to make certain written findings in all cases in which a court is considering a transfer of guardianship motion and a petition to terminate parental rights concurrently. We decline to exercise our supervisory authority, and, accordingly, affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Juvenile Law Appellate Court Slip Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4201

AC43721 - In re Madison C. (The respondent mother, Patricia K., appeals from the judgments of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, terminating her parental rights with respect to each of her three minor children on the ground that the respondent failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3) (B) (i). On appeal, the respondent claims that the court deprived her of her substantive due process rights as guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution because termination of her parental rights was not the least restrictive means necessary to ensure the state’s compelling interest in protecting the best interests of the children. As part of her claim, the respondent further asserts that the record disclosed that narrower means other than termination were available to protect the children from harm and afford them statutory permanency. We conclude that the record was inadequate to review the respondent’s constitutional claim, and, accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Juvenile Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=4109

SC20465 - In re Ava W. (Termination of Parental Rights; Posttermination Visitation; "In this certified appeal, we must decide whether a trial court has the legal authority to order posttermination visitation between a parent and the parent's minor child at the time the court considers termination of parental rights pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j). The respondent, Kiarah P., challenges the trial court's determination that it lacked authority to order visitation between her and her minor daughter, Ava W., upon ordering termination of the respondent's parental rights. The respondent claims that the trial court should have considered her request for posttermination visitation under its broad authority to enter "any order," pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-121 (b) (1), so long as the order serves the best interest of the child.

In response, the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, makes three arguments: (1) the respondent lacks standing to challenge the trial court's order regarding visitation because the court terminated her parental rights; (2) the trial court correctly determined that, as a matter of law, it lacked the authority to issue an order for posttermination contact; and (3) even if the trial court had the authority to order posttermination visitation, it correctly determined that posttermination visitation would not be in the child's best interest.

We agree with the respondent that the jurisdictional hurdles of aggrievement and mootness have been satisfied and do not defeat this court's subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate this appeal. We also agree with the respondent that a trial court has authority to issue a posttermination visitation order that is requested within the context of a termination proceeding, so long as it is necessary or appropriate to secure the welfare, protection, proper care and suitable support of the child. That authority derives from the court's broad common-law authority over juvenile matters and the legislature's enactment of § 46b-121 (b) (1) codifying that authority. The trial court in the present case incorrectly determined that it lacked authority to consider a posttermination visitation order on the basis of the respondent's failure to satisfy the statutory requirements of § 17a-112 (b) through (h). Section 17a-112 (b) governs "cooperative postadoption agreement[s]" under which parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights and intended adoptive parents willingly enter into a postadoption contact agreement. The present case does not fall within that category of circumstances, and the respondent's failure to satisfy those requirements did not deprive the trial court of authority to consider posttermination visitation pursuant to its broad authority under § 46b-121 (b) (1). Therefore, the trial court incorrectly determined that it lacked authority to evaluate whether posttermination visitation would be necessary or appropriate to secure the welfare, protection, proper care and suitable support of the child. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's order denying request of the minor child and the respondent mother for posttermination visitation with the respondent and remand the case with direction to consider the request consistent with the standard we now establish. Specifically, trial courts have authority pursuant to § 46b-121 (b) (1) to consider motions for posttermination visitation within the context of a termination proceeding and can order such visitation if necessary or appropriate to secure the welfare, protection, proper care and suitable support of the child.")


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