April 4, 2017

325 Conn. 221

April 4, 2017

Termination of Parental Rights, Guardian Intervention

The Supreme Court, Robinson, J. held that the purported guardian did not have a colorable claim of intervention as of right in the termination of parental rights proceeding. The Appeal was dismissed.

In this appeal, a third party purported guardian claims that the trial court improperly denied her request to intervene in the termination of mother’s parental rights, both as of right and permissively. She asserted her claim of intervention as a matter of right pursuant to the four factor test provided in BNY Western Trust v. Roman, 295 Conn. 194 (2010). She argued that (1) she had direct and substantial interest in the termination of parental rights proceeding, on the basis of the habeas court’s decision in February 2016, recognizing her prima facie interest in the custody of the child; (2) her rights were not adequately represented by any party to the termination of parental rights proceeding; and (3) her interest could be impaired by the disposition.

The court indicated that unless a specific right to appeal is provided by a statute, the appeal may only be taken from a final judgment. An interlocutory order is appealable only where it terminates a separate and distinct proceeding, or where it so concludes the rights of the parties that further proceedings cannot affect them. State v. Curcio, 191 Conn. 27, 31 (1983). Only the second prong is implicated on a motion to intervene. An unsuccessful applicant for intervention does not have a final judgement from which to appeal unless she could make a colorable claim of intervention, pursuant to Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, 279 Conn. 447 (2006).

The intervenor’s reliance on BNY Western Trust was misplaced because she failed to meet the requirement for a direct and substantial interest in the subject matter of the litigation. The court noted that, sufficient interest to qualify for the right to intervene must affect the proposed intervenor’s direct or personal rights, in which termination of parental rights proceedings concern only the rights of the respondent parent.