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In re Anthony L.

Appellate Court of Connecticut

October 21, 2019

IN RE ANTHONY L. et al.[*]

         Argued: September 5, 2019.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in the judicial district of Middlesex, Child Protection Session at Middletown, where the respondent father was defaulted for failure to appear; thereafter, the matters were tried to the court, Hon. Barbara M. Quinn, judge trial referee.

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          Matthew C. Eagan, assigned counsel, with whom was James P. Sexton, assigned counsel, for the appellant (respondent mother).

         Evan O’Roark, assistant attorney general, with whom were Benjamin Zivyon, assistant attorney general, and, on the brief, William Tong, attorney general, for the appellee (petitioner).

          Christopher DeMatteo, for the minor children.

         Lavine, Prescott and Bear, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         [194 Conn.App. 112] The respondent mother appeals from the judgments of the trial court rendered in favor of the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families,[1] terminating her parental rights with respect to each of the three oldest of her four minor children on the grounds that the respondent failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal rehabilitation pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3) (B) (i).[2] On appeal, the respondent claims that her and her children’s substantive due process rights were violated as a result of the trial court’s analysis of whether termination of her [194 Conn.App. 113] parental rights was in the children’s best interests. Specifically, the respondent

Page 981

claims that the court’s failure to conduct a factual inquiry into the petitioner’s three permanency plans, which called for the termination of her parental rights and adoption,[3] in its best interest analysis denied her substantive due process of law. She claims that, because adoption was not going to occur immediately, due process required the court to determine whether the permanency plans secured a more permanent and stable life for each of the children compared to that which she could provide if she were given time to rehabilitate herself.

         The record, however, contains insufficient evidence in support of such a claim because it was not raised and pursued by the respondent during trial. Neither the petitioner nor the court were aware, during trial, that it would be asserted as a claim on appeal. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth herein, we decline to review the respondent’s unpreserved claim and, therefore, affirm the judgments of the trial court.[4]

          The respondent failed to raise her substantive due process claim in the trial court and, accordingly, she seeks review by this court pursuant to [194 Conn.App. 114] State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 567 A.2d 823 (1989), as modified by In re Yasiel R., 317 Conn. 773, 781, 120 A.3d 1188 (2015).[5] ‘’[A] [respondent] can prevail on a claim of constitutional error not preserved at trial only if all of the following conditions are met: (1) the record is adequate to review the alleged claim of error; (2) the claim is of constitutional magnitude alleging the violation of a fundamental right; (3) the alleged constitutional violation ... exists and ... deprived the [respondent] of a fair trial; and (4) if subject to harmless error analysis, the [petitioner] has failed to demonstrate harmlessness of the alleged constitutional violation beyond a reasonable doubt. In the absence of any one of these conditions, the [respondent’s] claim will fail. The appellate tribunal is free, therefore, to respond to the [respondent’s] claim by focusing on whichever condition is most relevant in the particular circumstances.’’ (Emphasis in original; footnote omitted.) Id., at 239-40, 567 A.2d 823. In this case, we focus on the first prong of Golding .

          In assessing whether the first prong of Golding has been satisfied, it is well recognized that "[t]he [respondent] bears the responsibility for providing a ...


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