In Re: Jason M.
It is black letter law that a defendant in a criminal trial may waive her right of confrontation in a number of ways, including her voluntary and deliberate absence from trial; likewise, a respondent in a parental rights termination proceeding may waive her right of confrontation by deliberate absence. Following the respondent's mother's involuntary hospitalization due to certain mental health conditions, the court granted orders of temporary custody as to three of her seven children, Jason, Rosalinda and Hudsana. The day her youngest child, Richardson, was born, the Department of Children and Families removed him on a 96 hour hold. The children were later adjudicated neglected and committed to the care, custody and control of the department. Ultimately, the court made various findings and granted the commissioner of children and families' petition to terminate the mother's parental rights as to the four children pursuant to C.G.S. §17a-112(j)(3)(B)(i), for failure to achieve a sufficient degree of rehabilitation and that no ongoing parent-child relationship existed between the respondent and Jason, Rosalinda and Hudsana under C.G.S. §17a-112(j)(3)(D). The respondent appealed claiming, inter alia, that the trial court violated her due process right to notice and to confrontation as she lacked notice that the trial would begin on April 16, 2012. The Appellate Court was unpersuaded and affirmed the judgments. Based on a review of the record, the Appellate Court concluded that the respondent had notice. The record reflected that the respondent had personal notice from the court in setting the trial date in her presence. She was reminded by her social worker and handed a letter setting forth the times, dates and location of trial and that transportation would be provided for her. Her counsel appeared on her behalf, ready to proceed with trial. Her due process claim was found to lack merit and she waived her right of confrontation. The trial court found that the respondent voluntarily and deliberately absented herself from trial and that finding was not clearly erroneous. Further, the court's factual findings were not clearly erroneous, including that the department made reasonable reunification efforts, that the respondent failed to rehabilitate and that termination was in the children's best interests.