In re Anthony J., No. H12-CP03-009426-A (CT 2/1/2006), H12-CP03-009426-A

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Decision Date01 February 2006
Docket NumberNo. H12-CP03-009426-A,H12-CP03-009426-A
PartiesIn re Anthony J. Opinion No.: 92064
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

BARBARA BAILEY JONGBLOED, JUDGE.

On October 25, 2004, the petitioner, the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, ("DCF"), filed a petition pursuant to C.G.S. §17a-112et seq. to terminate the parental rights of Rachel B. and Anthony J., to their child, Anthony J. Respondent mother and father contest termination of their parental rights. Trial took place before this court on January 17, 2006 at the Regional Child Protection Session at the Middlesex J.D. For the reasons stated below, the court finds in favor of the petitioner.

The statutory grounds alleged against both respondents were (1) that the child was found in a prior proceeding to have been neglected or uncared for and the parents failed to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that within a reasonable period of time, considering the age and the needs of the child, they could assume a responsible position in the life of the child (C.G.S. §17a-112(j)(3)(B)(i)); and (2) that there is no ongoing parent-child relationship with respect to the father or mother that ordinarily develops as a result of a parent having met on a day-to-day basis the physical, emotional, moral or educational needs of the child, and to allow further time for the establishment of the parent child relationship would be detrimental to the best interest of the child. (C.G.S. §17a-112(j)(3)(D)). The petition also alleged abandonment as to father only, in the sense that he has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of the child (C.G.S. §17a-112(j)(3)(A)).

On October 28, 2003, a 96-hour hold was invoked by DCF after Anthony and mother tested positive for cocaine at Anthony's birth. An Order of Temporary Custody ("OTC") was issued by the court on October 30, 2003 (Burke, J.) and on the same date DCF filed a petition alleging neglect and that the child was uncared for in that the child's home could not provide the specialized care the child required. On March 4, 2004, the court (Bentivegna, J.) adjudicated the child neglected and found that he was permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to his well being and committed Anthony to the care and custody of DCF.

The court finds that notice of this proceeding has been provided in accordance with the provisions of the Practice Book. The court further finds that the Child Protection Session of the Superior Court, Juvenile Matters Division, has jurisdiction over the pending matter and that no action is pending in any other court affecting custody of the children.

"The termination of parental rights is defined as the complete severance by court order of the legal relationship, with all its rights and responsibilities, between the child and his [or her] parent . . . [As such, it] is a most serious and sensitive judicial action." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Jonathan M., 255 Conn. 208, 231, 764 A.2d 739 (2001); In re Bruce R., 234 Conn. 194, 200, 662 A.2d 107 (1995).

The termination of parental rights is governed by statute. C.G.S. §17a-112. In a proceeding for termination of parental rights, the petitioner must prove a ground alleged in the petition, as of the date of filing the petition or the last amendment, by clear and convincing evidence. In re Joshua Z., 26 Conn.App. 58, 63, 597 A.2d 842 (1991), cert. denied, 221 Conn. 901, 599 A.2d 1028 (1992); In re Teresa S., 196 Conn. 18, 29, 491 A.2d 355 (1985); Practice Book §32a-3(b), 35a-7. Only one ground need be established for the granting of the petition. In re Juvenile Appeal (84-BC), 194 Conn. 252, 258, 479 A.2d 1204 (1984); In re Karrlo K., 44 Conn.Sup. 101, 106, 669 A.2d 1249 (1994), aff'd, 40 Conn.App. 73, 668 A.2d 1353 (1996).

Termination of parental rights trials proceed in two stages: the adjudication and the disposition. The adjudicatory stage involves the issue of whether the evidence presented establishes by clear and convincing evidence the existence of one or more of the statutory grounds as of the date the petition was filed or last amended. In re Juvenile Appeal (84-AB), 192 Conn. 254, 264, 471 A.2d 1380 (1984). "Pursuant to Practice Book §33-3(a), [now P.B. §35a-7] in deciding the adjudicatory phase of the hearing for the termination of parental rights, the trial court's inquiry is limited to the events and facts preceding the filing of the petition for the termination of parental rights [or last amendment]." In re Daniel C., 63 Conn.App. 339, 357, 776 A.2d 487 (2001). However, "[i]n the adjudicatory phase, the court may rely on events occurring after the date of the filing of the petition to terminate parental rights when considering the issue of whether the degree of rehabilitation is sufficient to foresee that the parent may resume a useful role in the child's life within a reasonable time." In re Stanley D., 61 Conn.App. 224, 230, 763 A.2d 83 (2000) (emphasis in original); see In re Latifa K., 67 Conn.App. 742, 748, 789 A.2d 1024 (2002).

If at least one pleaded ground to terminate is found, the court proceeds to the disposition stage. The court must consider whether the facts, as of the last day of trial, establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination is in the child's best interest. Procedurally, the evidence as to both adjudicatory and dispositional phases is heard at the same trial without first determining if the state has proven a statutory ground for adjudication before consideration of the dispositional question. In re Eden F., 250 Conn. 674, 688-89, 741 A.2d 873 (1999); In re Juvenile Appeal (84-BC), 194 Conn. at 258; State v. Anonymous, 179 Conn. 155, 172-73, 425 A.2d 939 (1979); In re Quanitra M., 60 Conn.App. 96, 102, 758 A.2d 863, cert. denied, 255 Conn. 903, 762 A.2d 909 (2000); In re Emmanuel M, 43 Conn.Sup. 108, 113, 648 A.2d 904, (1993), aff'd, 35 Conn.App. 276, 278, 648 A.2d 881, cert. denied, 231 Conn. 915, 648 A.2d 151 (1994); In re Nicolina T., 9 Conn.App. 598, 602, 520 A.2d 639, cert. denied, 203 Conn. 804, 525 A.2d 519 (1987).

I. FACTS

At trial, the petitioner introduced the social study and addendum, a psychological evaluation, and other documentary evidence, and the testimony of DCF social workers Ama Tandoh and Lekita Ransome, and Anne Phillips, Psy. D., an expert in clinical and forensic psychology. Respondent mother called intervening paternal grandmother to testify. Respondent father, the child, and paternal grandmother called no witnesses. The credible evidence admitted at trial supports the following facts by clear and convincing evidence:

A. Respondent Mother—Rachel B.

Respondent mother, Rachel B., was born in Ohio on March 14, 1974. Mother reported to DCF that her mother never married her biological father who passed away prior to her birth. Mother experienced a very difficult childhood in which she was physically and sexually abused by the man she identified as a father until her mother left him when Rachel was seven. Rachel began using drugs during early adolescence and moved out of her mother's home in Old Saybrook when she was fourteen years old. She spent much of her adolescence in hospitals and group homes. Mother's drug use began with alcohol and marijuana at the age of twelve and elevated to the use of cocaine at sixteen and ultimately heroin, to which she was heavily addicted at the age of twenty-one. During this time, mother also became involved in abusive relationships. Mother did not graduate from high school, but received her GED in 1998 from York Correctional Institution at Niantic, CT. Mother has worked as a waitress and bartender, but due to her frequent arrests, she has been unable to maintain stable employment. Mother reported that she has hepatitis C and takes Trazadon for depression. Mother has two other children, born in 1991 and 1992, who are in the care and custody of their paternal grandmother.

Mother has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1995 and has convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny in the sixth degree (five counts), larceny in the fifth degree, larceny in the third degree, forgery in the third degree (two counts), violation of probation (four counts), breach of peace, disorderly conduct, possession of narcotics (four counts), robbery in the third degree, assault in the third degree, failure to appear (five counts), and prostitution (three counts).

Social worker Tandoh testified that when she was assigned to the case on November 18, 2003 father and mother were both whereabouts unknown. Tandoh learned that mother was incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Niantic, CT on November 26, 2003. She spoke with mother on December 18, 2003 at which time mother stated that she wanted Anthony to be placed with a relative, Tamara J.

On two occasions, relative licensing forms or placement packets were provided to Tamara J. Upon the first application, she was determined not to be eligible for licensing because she was not employed and her means of support was state assistance. A second attempt to pursue relative placement with Tamara was made beginning in April 2005 and a home visit was scheduled for June 2, 2005. Tamara missed the visit and another visit was scheduled for June 13, 2005. Again, Tamara was not home when the worker arrived and could not be reached by phone. The worker left a message, but did not hear from Tamara again.

Mother remained incarcerated through May 2005 based on convictions for violation of probation and prostitution. Mother visited with Anthony while she was incarcerated. Upon her release, she went to McAuliffe Manor, a rehabilitation treatment program. When mother was discharged from McAuliffe Manor on May 31, 2005, she moved into a...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT