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Care and Protection of Laurent (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-005-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   14-P-189                                        Appeals Court   CARE AND PROTECTION OF LAURENT.[1] No. 14-P-189. Middlesex.     September 5, 2014. – January 9, 2015.   Present:  Green, Graham, & Katzmann, JJ.   Minor, Care and protection.  Parent and Child, Care and protection of minor.  Practice, Civil, Care and protection proceeding, Findings by judge.       Petition filed in the Middlesex County Division of the Juvenile Court Department on October 17, 2011.   The case was heard by Kenneth J. King, J.     David J. Cohen, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for the mother. Richard A. Salcedo for Department of Children and Families. Julia A.B. Pearson for the child.     GRAHAM, J.  On October, 17, 2011, the Department of Children and Families (department) filed a care and protection petition in the Middlesex County Division of the Juvenile Court Department pursuant to G. L. c. 119 § 24, alleging Laurent was a child in need of care and protection.  On that day, the trial court judge granted temporary emergency custody of Laurent to the department.  The department later placed him in foster care, where he remained through the conclusion of the trial. Trial on the department’s petition occurred over seven non-consecutive days, beginning on November 1, 2012, and concluding on January 3, 2013.  On February 21, 2013, the judge found the mother unfit, essentially, on the basis that she was too cognitively limited to parent the child.  Accordingly, the child was committed to the custody of the department, with reunification as the plan. On appeal, the mother contends that the judge’s findings regarding her parenting deficiencies, taken as a whole, do not support a conclusion that the child was at risk of serious harm, and thus in need of care and protection.[2]  We agree with mother and, accordingly, reverse the judgment. 1.  Background.  We summarize the material facts from the judge’s extensive findings, which are supported by the evidence, and essentially undisputed. Laurent is one of five children born to the mother, who was forty years old at time of trial.  The mother experienced significant trauma and neglect as a child.  As a child, the mother contracted lead poisoning, which resulted in severe developmental disabilities.  In addition, the mother sustained a skull fracture when she was eight years old.  When she was fourteen, she was placed in department custody due to abuse and neglect.  She was […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 9, 2015 at 4:49 pm

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