IN RE AZAREON Y. et al., SC 19087
Judicial District of Hartford, Juvenile Matters
Termination of Parental Rights; Whether the Record was Adequate to Review the Mother’s Claim that General Statutes § 17a-112 Deprived her of Substantive Due Process by not Requiring a Finding that Termination of her Parental Rights was the Least Restrictive Alternative to Achieve the Best Interests of the Children. In 2011, the commissioner of children and families (petitioner) filed petitions seeking termination of the respondent mother’s parental rights in her minor son and daughter. The trial court granted the petitions, finding that, pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112, termination was in the best interests of the children. On appeal, the respondent claimed that, as applied to her, § 17a-112 deprived her of her substantive due process rights because it did not require the trial court to find by clear and convincing evidence that the termination of her parental rights was the least restrictive alternative to achieve the best interests of her children. The respondent acknowledged that she had failed to preserve her claim at trial, and, therefore, she relied on State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 239-40 (1989), which held that an appellant can prevail on a claim of constitutional error not preserved at trial only if, among other things, the record is adequate to review the alleged claim of error. The Appellate Court (139 Conn. App. 457) determined that the record was inadequate for review of the respondent’s claim. The court reasoned that the record did not contain any alternatives to the petitioner’s permanency plan and that the respondent failed to claim that she had asked the court to consider alternatives. It further emphasized that the trial court failed to indicate in its memorandum of decision whether it had considered an alternative permanency plan and that the respondent did not seek an articulation as to whether the court had considered other options. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the record was inadequate for review, and, if not, whether § 17a-112 deprived the respondent of her substantive due process rights.