Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Windham, Willimantic, Juvenile Matters
In re Hunter H. Opinion No. 133758
(with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and
Walsh): Foley, Francis J., J.T.R.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
December 3, 2015, Joette Katz, as she is the commissioner of
the department of children and families (department or DCF),
filed a petition pursuant to C.G.S. § 17a-112 et seq. to
terminate the parental rights of Charlotte F. and John R. to
the minor children, Hunter H. (dob. 10/29/11) and Michael H.
(dob. 10/13/13). The respondents have appeared and are
represented by counsel.
with the termination petition is a neglect case in the matter
of Eddie V. (dob. 8/24/15). This child was born to Charlotte
F. and Edward V. Both respondents appeared at the initial
hearing and had counsel appointed. Charlotte is believed to
be living with Edward at the present time. The child, Eddie,
was removed by order of temporary custody at birth and the
neglect petition was simultaneously filed. This child is in
placement with the paternal great grandparents since birth.
Child Welfare Findings (ICWA)
Charlotte and John R. claim to have Native American ancestry.
Charlotte claims to be of the Blackfoot tribe and John claims
to be of the Blackfoot/Piikuni Tribe. Neither tribe is a
federally recognized tribe. ICWA does not apply to
non-recognized tribes. Thus the parents are not accorded the
ICWA protections. The court is aware of no other proceedings
pending in any other court regarding the custody of these
children. This court has jurisdiction.
three parents, Charlotte and the two fathers, only John R.
came to court for the contested hearing by virtue of a writ
of habeas corpus addressed to the Connecticut Correctional
Institution where he is presently held. At the commencement
of the case, the father of Hunter and Michael, John R., has
presented, through his court-appointed counsel, a properly
executed form consenting to the termination of his parental
rights to Hunter and Michael. Having canvassed the father,
this court finds that he has been represented by competent
counsel who was present with him when he executed the consent
form. The court further finds that the consent has been
knowingly and voluntarily entered with a full understanding
of the legal consequences of his action. The consent of John
R. has been accepted by the court.
Department of Child and Families (DCF) through counsel has
moved to amend the petition to withdraw the non-consensual
grounds and to change the grounds to consent of the father
pursuant to § 17a-112(i). Without objection, the motion
the putative father of Eddie V. was served with the neglect
petition and attended the preliminary hearing on the Order of
Temporary Custody, he has not participated in any of the
subsequent proceedings, and as will be described, he has
exhibited no interest in the child whatsoever. His appointed
counsel was present in court. He is defaulted for failure to
has had counsel appointed for her. She discharged her first
attorney with a barrage of profanities and new counsel was
subsequently appointed. Her attorney was present in court,
but Charlotte failed to appear. The social worker contacted
her a week before the trial to offer her transportation. The
social worker confirmed the trial date by letter. Her failure
to come to court may in part be due to her recent arrest for
threatening to kill the child of her DCF social worker.
has had inconsistent visitation with her children. The
visitation occurs at the DCF office. In the same building is
an agency known as Child First. Charlotte's former
therapist from Community Health Resources (CHR) now works at
Child First and the therapist has encountered Charlotte a few
times, before and after Charlotte's visits at the DCF
office. On March 10, 2016, the therapist notified DCF that
Charlotte was distressed following a visit and said to the
therapist " what if I killed her kid, see how she would
like it" or " I'm going to kill her kid and see
how she likes it." These comments by Charlotte were
referring to the assigned DCF social worker who supervised
Threat Assessment Team meeting was held and determined that
since Charlotte was not attending her mental health services,
and since this is the second such threat Charlotte has made,
that visitation would be suspended until such time as
Charlotte obtains a mental health assessment. The State
police were notified and have subsequently, as of April 1,
2016, applied for an arrest warrant. This is not the first of
Charlotte's explosive outbursts. Nor is the first of her
this episode, Charlotte has not attended her recommended
mental health assessment and she has not been attending
substance abuse counseling. Visitation has been suspended.
Another social worker has been assigned to the case. The new
social worker testified that she has recently gone to the
home of Eddie V., with whom Charlotte is living. The
apartment was redolent of the smell of marijuana. The
conditions of the home were deplorable.
upon Charlotte's recent conduct, her residence with Eddie
V., the findings of the court-appointed psychologist and the
observations of the new social worker, the court finds that
Charlotte is not in the military or naval service of the
United States and she is defaulted for her failure to attend
the final hearing on the termination of her parental rights
and neglect hearing.
of Eddie V.
respect to the neglect allegations that the child Eddie has
been neglected, " [O]ur statutes clearly and explicitly
recognize the state's authority to act before harm occurs
to protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely
affected and not just children whose welfare has been
affected . . . General Statutes § 17a-101(a) provides:
The public policy of this state is: To protect children whose
health and welfare may be adversely affected through
injury and neglect; to strengthen the family and to make the
home safe for children by enhancing the parental capacity for
good child care; to provide a temporary or permanent
nurturing and safe environment for children when necessary;
and for these purposes to require the reporting of
suspected child abuse, investigation of such reports
by a social agency, and provision of services, where needed,
to such child and family." (Citation omitted; emphasis
in original; internal quotation marks omitted.) In re
T.K., 105 Conn.App. 502, 511-12, 939 A.2d 9, cert.
denied, 286 Conn. 914, 945 A.2d 976 (2008). The doctrine of
predictive neglect provides that " [t]he department,
pursuant to [§ 46b-120], need not wait until a child is
actually harmed before intervening to protect that child . .
. This statute clearly contemplates a situation where harm
could occur but has not actually occurred." [fn4]
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) In re Jermaine
S., 86 Conn.App. 819, 831, 863 A.2d 720, cert. denied,
273 Conn. 938, 875 A.2d 43 (2005).
child protection agencies in Massachusetts and Connecticut
have been engaged in assisting Charlotte regarding her mental
health and substance abuse issues for many years. The older
two children were removed in August of 2014 and as of the
date of birth of Eddie a year later, Charlotte was failing to
consistently participate in substance abuse counseling and
mental health therapy.
aware that Charlotte's problems have been issues since
her early childhood. She had been in a psychiatric inpatient
facility for her aggressive and sexually acting out
behaviors. She has been on psychiatric medications since her
teenage years. She is diagnosed with cannabis use disorder,
attention deficit disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder and
post-traumatic stress disorder. She has borderline
intellectual functioning. She is not always medication
compliant. She has limited parenting skills and has had
extremely poor parental role models. She herself was removed
from her own parents due to neglect and domestic violence.
is ample evidence that, at the time of the birth of Eddie, he
was seriously at risk. The child tested positive for
marijuana. The hospital authorities voiced concern over a
lack of bond between both parents and the child. The hospital
personnel noted conflict between the parents and frequent
mood swings. The child was placed in foster care directly
from the hospital.
father, Edward, does not visit with him and has exhibited
little interest in the child. He does not inquire about the
child's welfare. Edward is currently on probation for
selling narcotics. He received a three-year, suspended