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In re Avia M.

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

March 22, 2019

IN RE AVIA M. [*]

          Argued January 31, 2019 [**]

         Procedural History

         Amended petition by the Commissioner of Children and Families to terminate the respondents' parental rights with respect to their minor child, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain, Juvenile Matters, where the respondent father was defaulted for failure to appear; thereafter, the matter was tried to the court, Hon. Stephen F. Frazzini, judge trial referee; judgment terminating the respondents' parental rights, from which the respondent mother appealed to this court.

          Agnieszka G., self-represented, the appellant (respondent mother).

          Stephen G. Vitelli, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were George Jepsen, former attorney general, Benjamin Zivyon, assistant attorney general, and Hannah Kalichman, certified legal intern, for the appellee (petitioner).

          Alvord, Elgo and Norcott, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The respondent mother appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating her parental rights with respect to her daughter, Avia M. (child).[1]On appeal, the respondent claims that the trial court improperly concluded that the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families, proved by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the Department of Children and Families made reasonable efforts to reunify her, (2) she was unable or unwilling to achieve the requisite degree of personal rehabilitation, and (3) it was in the child's best interest to terminate her parental rights.[2] We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The record discloses that the child first entered the petitioner's care on April 6, 2016. The child was reunified with the respondent, on July 28, 2016, under an order of protective supervision and again was removed from the respondent's care on November 28, 2016. The child has been in the care and custody of the petitioner since November 28, 2016.

         On May 2, 2017, the petitioner filed a petition to terminate the respondent's parental rights, alleging, pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3) (B) (i), that the child previously was adjudicated neglected and that the respondent had failed to rehabilitate such that she could assume a responsible position in the child's life in a reasonable time. The petitioner further alleged that termination of the respondent's parental rights was in the child's best interest.

         To prevail in a nonconsensual termination of parental rights case, the petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that one of the statutory grounds for termination exists. General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3). If the trial court determines that failure to rehabilitate has been proven by the appropriate standard, then it must determine whether termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child. General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (2). Our standard of review on appeal is twofold. In re Shane M., 318 Conn. 569, 587-88, 122 A.3d 1247 (2015). First, the court's ultimate conclusion of whether a parent has failed to rehabilitate is ‘‘[reviewed under an evidentiary sufficiency standard], that is, whether the trial court could have reasonably concluded, upon the facts established and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, that the cumulative effect of the evidence was sufficient to justify its [ultimate conclusion]. . . . When applying this standard, we construe the evidence in a manner most favorable to sustaining the judgment of the trial court.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id. Second, the standard of review for the court's determination of the best interest of the child is clearly erroneous. In re Brayden E.-H., 309 Conn. 642, 657, 72 A.3d 1083 (2013).

         Our examination of the record and our consideration of the arguments of the parties persuades us that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. In a thoughtful and comprehensive memorandum of decision, the trial court analyzed the law in a manner consistent with our statutes and case precedents. Because that memorandum addresses the arguments raised in this appeal, we adopt the trial court's well reasoned decision as a statement of the applicable law on the issues. In re Avia M., Superior Court, judicial district of New Britain, Juvenile Matters, Docket No. H14-CP16-011696-A (April 3, 2018) (reprinted at 188 Conn.App., A.3d). It would serve no useful purpose for us to repeat the discussion contained therein. See In re Michael R., 49 Conn.App. 510, 512, 714 A.2d 1279, cert. denied, 247 Conn. 919, 722 A.2d 807 (1998).

         The ...


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