In Re: Azareon Y.
As explained in the 1992 Connecticut Supreme Court case of In Re: Alexander V., "there is no statute or court rule requiring a trial court in a termination proceeding to hold a hearing to determine a parent's competency." The respondent mother, Shayna Y., appealed from the trial court's judgments terminating her parental rights to her minor son and daughter under C.G.S. §17a-112(j)(3)(B)(i) for failure to achieve such a degree of personal rehabilitation as would encourage the belief that, within a reasonable time, she could assume a responsible position in her children's lives. On appeal, the respondent raised two unpreserved constitutional claims and sought review pursuant to the 1989 Connecticut Supreme Court case of State v. Golding. The first claim was that C.G.S. §17a-112, as applied to the respondent, denied her substantive due process of law because, during the dispositional phase of trial, the court did not find by clear and convincing evidence that there was no permanency plan that would have secured the best interests of her son and daughter that was less restrictive than termination of her parental rights. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgments. The record was inadequate to review the first claim. The record contained the permanency plan of the commissioner of children and families but was devoid of alternatives. The respondent did not indicate whether she requested the court to consider alternatives. The court's memorandum of decision did not indicate whether the court considered alternatives and the respondent did not request the court to articulate whether it had considered other options. The respondent's second claim was that the court deprived her of her due process right under the federal constitution by failing to order, sua sponte, a competency examination to determine whether she had the cognitive ability to understand the nature of the proceedings and could assist her counsel. The Appellate Court declined to reverse the judgments on this ground. The trial court's failure to order a competency evaluation sua sponte did not constitute an abuse of its discretion. Although there was evidence in the record of the respondent's impaired cognitive function, the record was devoid of specific factual allegations that the respondent did not understand the nature of the termination proceeding or was unable to assist her counsel.