In re Kaurice B.

Connecticut Appellate Court

83 Conn. App. 519 (2004)

June 29, 2004

 

In a short decision, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed a trial court’s order of temporary custody (“OTC”) involving a young girl. While the opinion is factually based, two issues raised in the opinion are worth noting.

First, the court indicated that the respondent stepmother brought the appeal challenging the OTC, not her father. The court indicated that the father was not a party to the appeal, and that the stepmother had standing to appeal, based on the facts of this particular case, and the supplemental briefs filed with the court.

Second, the court reiterated the legal standards present in OTC challenges raised on appeal. In ex parte proceedings, the trial court is charged, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-129(b) with the responsibility of finding reasonable cause to believe that (1) the child or youth is suffering from some serious physical illness or serious physical injury or is immediate physical danger her surroundings, and (2) that as a result of the conditions, the child’s safety is endangered and immediate removal from such surrounding is necessary to ensure the child’s safety. In a contested OTC proceeding, the court must find by a fair preponderance of the evidence that custody should be granted to the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families under the aforementioned criteria.

On appeal the court is bound by the “clearly erroneous” standard of review, whereby the trial court’s findings are binding on the appellate court unless they are clearly erroneous in light of the evidence and pleadings in the record as a whole. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous when there is no evidence in the record to support it, or when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court is left with the “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” See In re Michael L., 56 Conn. App. 688 (2000)

In this case, the court reviewed a record replete with allegations of physical abuse and intimidation perpetrated on the child by her father and stepmother. Thus, the court had no difficulty upholding the OTC.

The case may be accessed by accessed by going to the Judicial Branch website atwww.jud.state.ct.us/external/supapp/Cases/AROap/AP83/83ap359.pdf.

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