In re Halle T., No. 25675.

Decision Date08 August 2006
Docket NumberNo. 25675.
Citation96 Conn.App. 815,902 A.2d 670
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesIn re HALLE T.<SMALL><SUP>*</SUP></SMALL>

Steven R. Dembo, West Hartford, with whom, on the brief, was P. Jo Anne Burgh, for the appellant (respondent father).

Mary-Anne Ziewacz Mulholland, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were Richard Blumenthal, attorney general, and Susan T. Pearlman, assistant attorney general, for the appellee (petitioner).

Jason W. Glasgow, for the minor child.

FLYNN, C.J., and SCHALLER and PETERS, Js.

SCHALLER, J.

This court recently observed that "[t]he sad fact is that there is a difference between parental love and parental competence." In re Christina M., 90 Conn.App. 565, 575, 877 A.2d 941, cert. granted on other grounds, 276 Conn. 903, 884 A.2d 1024 (2005). In the present case, we again are required to undertake the difficult task of determining whether a trial court properly terminated the parental rights of an individual who unquestionably loved his minor daughter but displayed an inability to provide sufficient care and support for his medically fragile child. The respondent father1 claims that the trial court improperly (1) violated his federal and state constitutional rights by adopting verbatim significant portions of the social studies in its memorandum of decision and (2) concluded that the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to terminate his parental rights. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our discussion. On January 28, 2002, the petitioner, the commissioner of children and families, filed a neglect petition alleging that the child was denied proper care and affection and was permitted to live in conditions injurious to her well-being. The petitioner also claimed that the child was uncared for because she was not provided with the specialized care that she required. The child was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and demonstrated indicia of numerous developmental deficiencies.2

On April 11, 2002, the child's mother sent the child to live with the respondent. On May 1, 2002, she notified the petitioner that the respondent sounded intoxicated when she spoke with him on the telephone at 8:30 in the morning. The mother was concerned about the condition of the respondent, who was scheduled to drive the child to a medical appointment. In response, a social worker telephoned the respondent. During this conversation, the social worker noticed that the respondent's speech was slurred and that he was unable to answer questions posed to him. The social worker then traveled to the respondent's home.

Upon arriving at the residence, the social worker observed the respondent "staggering" and smelling of alcohol. The respondent admitted to drinking tequila at four o'clock in the morning. The child was found in a crib wearing a diaper soaked from diarrhea and urine. The petitioner invoked a ninety-six hour hold and placed the child in protective custody.3

The court on May 2, 2002, found the child to be neglected and uncared for and set specific steps for the respondent to regain custody of her.4 The court, inter alia, instructed the respondent to keep all appointments with the petitioner, keep his whereabouts known, participate in counseling, attend parenting classes for children with special needs, learn about the child's special needs, submit to a substance abuse assessment and random drug testing, refrain from substance abuse, and maintain adequate housing and legal income.

The petitioner eventually placed the child in the custody of P, the respondent's stepdaughter. The respondent objected to this placement; nevertheless, the commitment was maintained on April 17, 2003. The initial goal of the permanency plan, filed in February, 2003, was reunification of the respondent with the child. On July 7, 2003, after learning of two instances of excessive alcohol use by the respondent, the petitioner revised the permanency plan and moved to terminate the parental rights of the respondent and the child's mother. See General Statutes § 17a-112. The petitioner alleged that the respondent failed to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that within a reasonable time, considering the age and needs of the child, he would be able to assume a responsible position in her life.

The court held a hearing over the course of several days. At the conclusion of this hearing, the court denied the petitioner's motion for termination of the respondent's parental rights. The court ordered the respondent and P to pursue family counseling. The court continued the placement of the child with P. The court "felt that [the respondent] should be given more time to prove that he could care for [the child]."

The petitioner subsequently renewed its motion to terminate the respondent's parental rights. Two social studies, dated January 2 and April 8, 2004, were completed. The court held a hearing on May 13, 2004, and issued its memorandum of decision on July 14, 2004. The court found that the petitioner had proved, by clear and convincing evidence, that the department of children and families (department) had made reasonable efforts to reunify the respondent and the child.5 The court further found that the petitioner had proven that the respondent had failed to achieve rehabilitation or to restore himself to a constructive and useful role as a parent. See General Statutes § 17a-112 (j)(3)(B)(ii).6 "Although [the respondent] appears to love and care for the child and has attempted to gain knowledge and understanding of her medically and mentally complex status, it is readily apparent in his testimony and actions with the child that he lacks the awareness and insight necessary to accommodate and meet her complex needs at this time. This failure of [the respondent] to manifest this understanding and awareness from [the child's] birth . . . to the present, despite the fact that services and opportunities have been made available, but not fully utilized, and his failure to demonstrate such a degree of personal and positive support for [the child], lead to the belief that within a reasonable period of time, considering [the child's] age and needs, [the respondent] would be unable to impart an ability or capacity to assume a responsible position in the life of his child."

In the dispositional phase of the proceedings, the court made findings pursuant to the seven factors listed in § 17a-112 (k).7 Notably, the court found that the child had little, if any, positive feeling toward her mother or the respondent but appeared bonded to and had significant emotional ties with P. The court ultimately found that it was in the child's best interest that the respondent's parental rights be terminated.8 This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

At the outset, we note the standard of review and legal principles germane to our discussion. "Our standard of review on appeal from a termination of parental rights is whether the challenged findings are clearly erroneous.... The determinations reached by the trial court that the evidence is clear and convincing will be disturbed only if [any challenged] finding is not supported by the evidence and [is], in light of the evidence in the whole record, clearly erroneous....

"On appeal, our function is to determine whether the trial court's conclusion was legally correct and factually supported.... We do not examine the record to determine whether the trier of fact could have reached a conclusion other than the one reached ... nor do we retry the case or pass upon the credibility of the witnesses.... Rather, on review by this court every reasonable presumption is made in favor of the trial court's ruling." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Sheena I., 63 Conn.App. 713, 719-20, 778 A.2d 997 (2001); see also In re Javon R., 85 Conn.App. 765, 768-69, 858 A.2d 887 (2004); In re Kristy A., 83 Conn.App. 298, 305-306, 848 A.2d 1276, cert. denied, 271 Conn. 921, 859 A.2d 579 (2004).

Our Supreme Court has stated: "In order to terminate a parent's parental rights under § 17a-112, the petitioner is required to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that: (1) the department has made reasonable efforts to reunify the family; General Statutes § 17a-112 (j)(1); (2) termination is in the best interest of the child; General Statutes § 17a-112 (j)(2); and (3) there exists any one of the seven grounds for termination delineated in § 17a-112 (j)(3)." In re Samantha C., 268 Conn. 614, 628, 847 A.2d 883 (2004).

"A hearing on a petition to terminate parental rights consists of two phases, adjudication and disposition.... In the adjudicatory phase, the trial court determines whether one of the statutory grounds for termination of parental rights . . . exists by clear and convincing evidence. If the trial court determines that a statutory ground for termination exists, it proceeds to the dispositional phase. In the dispositional phase, the trial court determines whether termination is in the best interests of the child.... In the dispositional phase of a termination of parental rights hearing, the trial court must determine whether it is established by clear and convincing evidence that the continuation of the parents' parental rights is not in the best interests of the child. In arriving at that decision, the court is mandated to consider and make written findings regarding seven factors delineated in . . . § [17a-112 (k)]...." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Vanna A., 83 Conn. App. 17, 21-22, 847 A.2d 1073 (2004).

I

The respondent first claims that the court violated his federal and state constitutional rights by adopting verbatim significant portions of the social studies in its written memorandum of decision. Specifically, he argues that his substantive due process rights were violated because "more...

To continue reading

Request your trial
38 cases
  • In re Luis N.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court
    • November 15, 2016
    ... ... , 90 Conn.App ... 565, 575, 877 A.2d 941, cert. granted on other grounds, 276 ... Conn. 903, 884 A.2d 1024 (2005)." In re Halle , ... 96 Conn.App. 815, 817, 902 A.2d 670, cert. denied, 280 Conn ... 924, 908 A.2d 1087 (2006). Similarly, in In re Melody L., ... ...
  • In re Emerald C., (AC 28573) (Conn. App. 7/1/2008)
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • July 1, 2008
    ... ... In re Halle T ., 96 Conn. App. 815, 836, 902 A.2d 670 (2006); In re Alejandro L ., supra, 91 Conn. App. 260; In re Kristy A ., 83 Conn. App. 298, 317, 848 A.2d ... ...
  • In re Justin W.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court
    • January 19, 2016
    ... ... , 90 Conn.App ... 565, 575, 877 A.2d 941, cert. granted on other grounds, 276 ... Conn. 903, 884 A.2d 1024 (2005)." In re Halle , ... 96 Conn.App. 815, 817, 902 A.2d 670, cert. denied, 280 Conn ... 924, 908 A.2d 1087 (2006). Similarly, in In re Melody L.; ... ...
  • In re Alison M. Et Al.*
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • March 8, 2011
    ... ... [17a112 (k) ] ... (Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Halle T., 96 Conn.App. 815, 823, 902 A.2d 670, cert. [15 A.3d 200] denied, 280 Conn. 924, 908 A.2d 1087 (2006). I The respondent first argues that the ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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