In re Kamari C.

Connecticut Appellate Court

July 27, 2010

NEGLECT/ INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE/ OTC

Respondent mother appealed trial court’s determination that her children were neglected and should be committed to the Department. The mother contended that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of neglect and that the trial court improperly applied the doctrine of predictive neglect in adjudicating her children. The respondent’s youngest child, a newborn, was removed from the mother when the baby was three days old. The Order of Temporary Custody was later vacated and the baby returned to the mother’s care, with the neglect petition still pending. Four months later the court began the neglect trial. The mother argued that because the baby was removed when she was only days old, the state’s only viable neglect theory, and the only legal basis for the court’s neglect adjudication was that of “predictive” neglect. Given that the OTC was ultimately vacated and the mother actually cared for the child for the next several months without incident, the application of a “predictive neglect” doctrine was inappropriate. The appellate court pointed out that Practice Book Rule 35a-7 provides that, for purposes of adjudication, the trial court is limited to evidence pre-dating the filing of the neglect petition. The appellate court also found that there was substantial evidence that both of the respondent’s children were neglected at the time the petition was filed. The mother’s rights to an older child had recently been terminated and the court documented the mother’s longstanding inability to maintain adequate housing, comply with mental health treatment or refrain from illicit drug use. The same evidence was also sufficient to warrant a dispositional finding of commitment.

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