Sunday, December 8, 2013

In re Juvenile Appeal (83-CD) case brief

In re Juvenile Appeal (83-CD) case brief summary
455 A.2d 1313 (1983)

Defendant, the mother of five children, appealed from an order of the Superior Court for juvenile matters in the judicial district of New Haven (Connecticut), which granted temporary custody of the children to plaintiff, the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Youth Services.

The mother's youngest child died suddenly. No cause of death could be determined at that time, but a pediatrician noticed some unexplained superficial marks on the child's body. As a result, the commissioner seized custody of the five remaining children. The juvenile court later found "probable cause" and, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-129(b), ordered temporary custody of the children to remain with the commissioner.


  • On appeal, the court remanded the case. 
  • The court held that § 46b-129(b) was constitutional because, when it was read together with Conn. Gen. Stat. § 17-38a, as it had to be, it was justified by a compelling state interest and was narrowly drawn to express only that legitimate state interest. 
  • The court also held, however, that the juvenile court erred when it decided that "probable cause" was the standard of proof in a temporary custody proceeding. 
  • The standard of proof to be used in temporary custody hearings under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-129(b)(2) was the normal civil standard of a fair preponderance of the evidence. 
  • The court further held that the burden of proof was always on the state when it sought to remove children from the home.

The court remanded the case to the juvenile court with direction to set aside the orders of temporary custody.

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