Conn. Appellate Court
November 20, 2012
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, DUE PROCESS, COMPETENCY
In this appeal of a termination of parental rights decision, the respondent mother claimed (1) that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17a-112 violates her substantive due process rights because it is not sufficiently and narrowly tailored, and (2) the court abused its discretion and violated her due process rights by failing to hold, sua sponte, a hearing regarding respondent’s competency. Both claims were not preserved at trial and the respondent sought review under State v.Golding, 213 Conn. 233 (1989).
The appellate court determined that there was not an adequate record to consider the respondent mother’s first claim that the court erred when it failed to find by clear and convincing evidence that there was no permanency plan that would have secured the best interests of her son and daughter that was less restrictive than termination of her parental rights with respect to her children. The record did not contain alternative plans or indication that an alternative was requested. Further no motion for articulation was filed to determine whether the court considered other options. See Practice Book § 60-5.
The appellate court further held that the record lacked specific factual allegations that, if true, would constitute substantial evidence of mental impairment requiring the court to conduct a competency hearing. See In re Alexander V., 223 Conn. 557, 566 (1992). The court acknowledged that the record contained evidence of the respondent’s impaired cognitive function. However, there was no direct information that she could not understand the proceedings or assist in the presentation of her case. The Supreme Court previously determined in Alexander V., “due process does not require a competency hearing in all termination cases but only when (1) the parent’s attorney requests such a hearing, or (2) in the
absence of such a request, the conduct of the parent reasonably suggests to the court, in the exercise of its discretion, the desirability of ordering such a hearing sua sponte.
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