IN RE WILLIAM M., SC 19019     

IN RE JAHQUISE K., SC 19020    


Judicial District of Fairfield


      Juveniles; Delinquency; Whether Trial Court Orders Committing Juveniles to DCF Custody for Less Than Eighteen Months Complied with General Statutes § 46b-141 (a) (1) (A); Whether Trial Court Properly Accepted Plea Agreement Which Allowed for No Extension of Juvenile's Commitment.  Each of the juveniles in these cases was adjudicated a delinquent and committed to the custody of the department of children and families (DCF).  In each case, except for In re Jonathan S., the trial court accepted a plea agreement pursuant to which the juvenile would be committed to DCF's custody for an indeterminate period of up to twelve months.  In the case of Jonathan S., the court accepted a plea agreement pursuant to which Jonathan would be committed to DCF's custody for an indeterminate period of up to six months with no extensions of the commitment.  DCF appeals, claiming that the trial courts' dispositional orders are improper because they do not comply with General Statutes § 46b-141 (a) (1) (A), which provides that "commitment of children convicted as delinquent by the Superior Court to the Department of Children and Families shall be for . . . an indeterminate time up to a maximum of eighteen months . . . ."  DCF argues that the trial courts had no authority under the statute to set the maximum term of commitment at less than eighteen months and that it is within DCF's discretion, in the course of providing treatment and rehabilitative services to a juvenile, to determine whether the commitment will actually run the entire eighteen months.  DCF also claims, with respect to Jonathan, that the court improperly accepted a plea that was not made voluntarily and knowingly because the court did not inform Jonathan that, notwithstanding the agreement made by the prosecutor and defense counsel, DCF has the right under § 46b-141 (b) to seek an extension of his commitment.  Subsection (b) provides that "[t]he Commissioner of Children and Families may file a motion for an extension of the commitment  . . . beyond the eighteen-month period on the grounds that such an extension is for the best interest of the child or the community."  DCF also argues that the trial court's "no extension" order was improper because subsection (b) places the responsibility for deciding whether to seek an extension of the commitment solely with DCF such that the trial court could not properly preclude it from seeking an extension of Jonathan's commitment.