Connecticut Seal

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House of Representatives

File No. 708

General Assembly

 

February Session, 2016

(Reprint of File No. 345)

Substitute House Bill No. 5366

 

As Amended by House Amendment

Schedule "A"

Approved by the Legislative Commissioner

April 22, 2016

AN ACT CONCERNING COURT OPERATIONS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (k) of section 17a-112 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(k) Except in the case where termination of parental rights is based on consent, in determining whether to terminate parental rights under this section, the court shall consider and shall make written findings regarding: (1) The timeliness, nature and extent of services offered, provided and made available to the parent and the child by an agency to facilitate the reunion of the child with the parent; (2) whether the Department of Children and Families has made reasonable efforts to reunite the family pursuant to the federal [Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, as amended] Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, as amended from time to time; (3) the terms of any applicable court order entered into and agreed upon by any individual or agency and the parent, and the extent to which all parties have fulfilled their obligations under such order; (4) the feelings and emotional ties of the child with respect to the child's parents, any guardian of such child's person and any person who has exercised physical care, custody or control of the child for at least one year and with whom the child has developed significant emotional ties; (5) the age of the child; (6) the efforts the parent has made to adjust such parent's circumstances, conduct, or conditions to make it in the best interest of the child to return such child home in the foreseeable future, including, but not limited to, (A) the extent to which the parent has maintained contact with the child as part of an effort to reunite the child with the parent, provided the court may give weight to incidental visitations, communications or contributions, and (B) the maintenance of regular contact or communication with the guardian or other custodian of the child; and (7) the extent to which a parent has been prevented from maintaining a meaningful relationship with the child by the unreasonable act or conduct of the other parent of the child, or the unreasonable act of any other person or by the economic circumstances of the parent.

Sec. 2. Subsection (o) of section 17a-112 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(o) In the case where termination of parental rights is granted, the guardian of the person or statutory parent shall report to the court not later than thirty days after the date judgment is entered on a case plan, as defined by the federal [Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980] Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, as amended from time to time, for the child which shall include measurable objectives and time schedules. At least every three months thereafter, such guardian or statutory parent shall make a report to the court on the progress made on implementation of the plan. The court may convene a hearing upon the filing of a report and shall convene and conduct a permanency hearing pursuant to subsection (k) of section 46b-129 for the purpose of reviewing the permanency plan for the child [no] not more than twelve months from the date judgment is entered or from the date of the last permanency hearing held pursuant to subsection (k) of section 46b-129, whichever is earlier, and at least once a year thereafter while the child remains in the custody of the Commissioner of Children and Families. For children where the commissioner has determined that adoption is appropriate, the report on the implementation of the plan shall include a description of the reasonable efforts the department is taking to promote and expedite the adoptive placement and to finalize the adoption of the child, including documentation of child specific recruitment efforts. At such hearing, the court shall determine whether the department has made reasonable efforts to achieve the permanency plan. If the court determines that the department has not made reasonable efforts to place a child in an adoptive placement or that reasonable efforts have not resulted in the placement of the child, the court may order the Department of Children and Families, within available appropriations, to contract with a child-placing agency to arrange for the adoption of the child. The department, as statutory parent, shall continue to provide care and services for the child while a child-placing agency is arranging for the adoption of the child.

Sec. 3. Subsection (j) of section 45a-717 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(j) In the case where termination of parental rights is granted, the guardian of the person or statutory parent shall report to the court within thirty days of the date judgment is entered on a case plan, as defined by the federal [Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980] Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, as amended from time to time, for the child. At least every three months thereafter, such guardian or statutory parent shall make a report to the court on the implementation of the plan. The court may convene a hearing upon the filing of a report and shall convene a hearing for the purpose of reviewing the plan no more than twelve months from the date judgment is entered or from the date of the last permanency hearing held pursuant to subsection (k) of section 46b-129 if the child or youth is in the care and custody of the Commissioner of Children and Families, whichever is earlier, and at least once a year thereafter until such time as any proposed adoption plan has become finalized. If the Commissioner of Children and Families is the statutory parent for the child, at such a hearing the court shall determine whether the department has made reasonable efforts to achieve the permanency plan. In the case where termination of parental rights is granted, the guardian of the person or statutory parent shall obtain the approval of the court prior to placing the child or youth for adoption outside the state. Before ordering or approving such placement, the court shall make findings concerning compliance with the provisions of section 17a-175. Such findings shall include, but not be limited to: (1) A finding that the state has received notice in writing from the receiving state, in accordance with subsection (d) of Article III of section 17a-175, indicating that the proposed placement does not appear contrary to the interests of the child, (2) the court has reviewed such notice, (3) whether or not an interstate compact study or other home study has been completed by the receiving state, and (4) if such a study has been completed, whether the conclusions reached by the receiving state as a result of such study support the placement.

Sec. 4. Subsections (a) and (b) of section 46b-15 of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

(a) Any family or household member, as defined in section 46b-38a, who has been subjected to a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury, stalking or a pattern of threatening, including, but not limited to, a pattern of threatening, as described in section 53a-62, by another family or household member may make an application to the Superior Court for relief under this section. The court shall provide any person who applies for relief under this section with the information set forth in section 46b-15b, as amended by this act.

(b) The application form shall allow the applicant, at the applicant's option, to indicate whether the respondent holds a permit to carry a pistol or revolver or possesses one or more firearms or ammunition. The application shall be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath which includes a brief statement of the conditions from which relief is sought. Upon receipt of the application the court shall order that a hearing on the application be held not later than fourteen days from the date of the order. The court, in its discretion, may make such orders as it deems appropriate for the protection of the applicant and such dependent children or other persons as the court sees fit. In making such orders ex parte, the court, in its discretion, may consider relevant court records if the records are available to the public from a clerk of the Superior Court or on the Judicial Branch's Internet web site. In addition, at the time of the hearing, the court, in its discretion, may also consider a report prepared by the family services unit of the Judicial Branch that may include, as available: Any existing or prior orders of protection obtained from the protection order registry; information on any pending criminal case or past criminal case in which the respondent was convicted of a violent crime; any outstanding arrest warrant for the respondent; and the respondent's level of risk based on a risk assessment tool utilized by the Court Support Services Division. The report may also include information pertaining to any pending or disposed family matters case involving the applicant and respondent. Any report provided by the Court Support Services Division to the court shall also be provided to the applicant and respondent. Such orders may include temporary child custody or visitation rights, and such relief may include, but is not limited to, an order enjoining the respondent from (1) imposing any restraint upon the person or liberty of the applicant; (2) threatening, harassing, assaulting, molesting, sexually assaulting or attacking the applicant; or (3) entering the family dwelling or the dwelling of the applicant. Such order may include provisions necessary to protect any animal owned or kept by the applicant including, but not limited to, an order enjoining the respondent from injuring or threatening to injure such animal. If an applicant alleges an immediate and present physical danger to the applicant, the court may issue an ex parte order granting such relief as it deems appropriate. If a postponement of a hearing on the application is requested by either party and granted, the ex parte order shall not be continued except upon agreement of the parties or by order of the court for good cause shown. If a hearing on the application is scheduled or an ex parte order is granted and the court is closed on the scheduled hearing date, the hearing shall be held on the next day the court is open and any such ex parte order shall remain in effect until the date of such hearing. If the applicant is under eighteen years of age, a parent, guardian or responsible adult who brings the application as next friend of the applicant may not speak on the applicant's behalf at such hearing unless there is good cause shown as to why the applicant is unable to speak on his or her own behalf, except that nothing in this subsection shall preclude such parent, guardian or responsible adult from testifying as a witness at such hearing. As used in this subsection, "violent crime" includes: (A) An incident resulting in physical harm, bodily injury or assault; (B) an act of threatened violence that constitutes fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, including, but not limited to, stalking or a pattern of threatening; (C) verbal abuse or argument if there is a present danger and likelihood that physical violence will occur; and (D) cruelty to animals as set forth in section 53-247.

Sec. 5. Section 46b-15b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

The Superior Court shall provide any person who applies for a restraining order in a domestic violence situation with information on steps necessary to continue such order beyond the initial period and shall provide an applicant with information on how to contact a domestic violence [counselors and counseling organizations] counselor, as defined in section 52-146k, and a domestic violence agency, as defined in section 52-146k.

Sec. 6. Subsection (b) of section 46b-16a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

(b) The application shall be accompanied by an affidavit made by the applicant under oath that includes a statement of the specific facts that form the basis for relief. Upon receipt of the application, if the allegations set forth in the affidavit meet the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, the court shall schedule a hearing not later than fourteen days from the date of the application. If a postponement of a hearing on the application is requested by either party, no ex parte order shall be continued except upon agreement of the parties or by order of the court for good cause shown. If the court is closed on the scheduled hearing date, the hearing shall be held on the next day the court is open and any ex parte order that was issued shall remain in effect until the date of such hearing. If the applicant is under eighteen years of age, a parent, guardian or responsible adult who brings the application as next friend of the applicant may not speak on the applicant's behalf at such hearing unless there is good cause shown as to why the applicant is unable to speak on his or her own behalf, except that nothing in this subsection shall preclude such parent, guardian or responsible adult from testifying as a witness at such hearing. If the court finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent has committed acts constituting grounds for issuance of an order under this section and will continue to commit such acts or acts designed to intimidate or retaliate against the applicant, the court, in its discretion, may make such orders as it deems appropriate for the protection of the applicant. If the court finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an imminent danger exists to the applicant, the court may issue an ex parte order granting such relief as it deems appropriate. In making such orders, the court, in its discretion, may consider relevant court records if the records are available to the public from a clerk of the Superior Court or on the Judicial Branch's Internet web site. Such orders may include, but are not limited to, an order enjoining the respondent from: (1) Imposing any restraint upon the person or liberty of the applicant; (2) threatening, harassing, assaulting, molesting, sexually assaulting or attacking the applicant; and (3) entering the dwelling of the applicant.

Sec. 7. Subsection (f) of section 52-259 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

(f) There shall be paid to the clerk of the Superior Court for [receiving and filing an assessment of damages by appraisers of land taken for public use or] the appointment of a commissioner of the Superior Court, two dollars; for recording the commission and oath of a notary public or certifying under seal to the official character of any magistrate, ten dollars; for issuing a certificate that an attorney is in good standing, ten dollars; for certifying under seal, two dollars; for exemplifying, twenty dollars; for making all necessary records and certificates of naturalization, the fees allowed under the provisions of the United States statutes for such services; and for making copies, one dollar per page. Any fee set forth in this subsection shall be payable in accordance with subsection (m) of this section.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

17a-112(k)

Sec. 2

from passage

17a-112(o)

Sec. 3

from passage

45a-717(j)

Sec. 4

October 1, 2016

46b-15(a) and (b)

Sec. 5

October 1, 2016

46b-15b

Sec. 6

October 1, 2016

46b-16a(b)

Sec. 7

October 1, 2016

52-259(f)

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.

OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 17 $

FY 18 $

Resources of the General Fund

GF - Revenue Loss

Approximately $500

Approximately $500

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill eliminates a land fee and results in a revenue loss of approximately $500 annually.

The bill makes additional procedural changes to the Judicial Department which does not result in a fiscal impact.

House “A” eliminates a provision of the underlying bill that would allow the Judicial Department to use existing bond authorizations for repairs, improvements, and acquisition of a juvenile court in Waterford. This is not anticipated to have a fiscal impact because the funds will be redistributed for other projects.

The amendment makes additional procedural changes that do not result in a fiscal impact.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to inflation.

OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5366 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING COURT OPERATIONS.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes a number of changes to court procedures, including:

*House Amendment “A” (1) eliminates provisions changing the requirements placed on a party on whose behalf a deposition is taken; allowing the Judicial Branch to use certain bond proceeds for a juvenile court in Waterford; specifying that a parent, guardian, or responsible adult must make a restraining or civil protection order application on behalf of someone under age 18; allowing such a person to make the required affidavit on behalf of the minor or an incompetent person; and allowing the court to appoint a responsible adult for a minor who is a respondent and appears in court without a parent or guardian and (2) adds provisions allowing a parent, guardian, or responsible adult to testify as a witness at a hearing even if the person cannot speak on the minor's behalf and changing the information courts provide about domestic violence counseling.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016, except technical changes are effective upon passage.

4 & 6 — RESTRAINING AND CIVIL PROTECTION ORDERS

The law allows a person to apply for a:

The bill prohibits a parent, guardian, or responsible adult who brings an application for one of these orders as next friend of someone under age 18 from speaking for the applicant at a hearing except for good cause showing why the applicant cannot speak on his or her own behalf. But the bill allows such a person to testify as a witness at a hearing on the application.

Restraining Orders

When issuing an ex parte order (an order issued before a hearing, when one of the parties is not present), the law allows the court to consider relevant publicly available court records. At a hearing on the application, the bill allows the court to consider a report from the Judicial Branch's family services unit that may include:

The bill requires that both the applicant and respondent receive this report.

Civil Protection Orders

The law requires scheduling a hearing on an application for a civil protection order within 14 days. Under the bill, if either party requests a postponement, any ex parte order issued by the court does not continue unless the parties agree to it or the court orders it for good cause.

4 & 5 — COURT NOTICE ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COUNSELING

Current law requires the court to provide people who apply for a restraining order in a domestic violence situation with contact information for domestic violence counselors and counseling organizations. The bill specifies that the counselors must (1) be engaged in a domestic violence agency; (2) have undergone at least 20 hours of related training and be certified as a counselor by the training agency; (3) be under the control of a direct supervisor of a domestic violence agency; and (4) primarily engage in giving advice, counsel, and assistance to, and advocacy for, domestic violence victims.

Instead of counseling organizations, the bill requires the courts to provide information about domestic violence agencies, which are offices, shelters, host homes, or agencies that (1) assist domestic violence victims through crisis intervention, emergency shelter referral, and medical and legal advocacy and (2) meet Department of Social Services' criteria for providing these services.

The bill specifies that courts must give this information, and information on how to continue an order beyond its initial period, to every restraining order applicant.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

40

Nay

2

(03/11/2016)

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