Massachusetts State House.
Policy Library

Adoption of Patty (SJC-13220)

February 15, 2022

The BBA joined an amicus brief in this impounded case, in which a mother was not present online for the entirety of a virtual termination of parental rights (TPR) trial, at least in part due to technical difficulties. The brief, filed by CPCS, argued that TPR trials must not be held virtually over a party’s objection, given the high stakes involved and the inherent biases and other risks in “Zoom” trials. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the mother had no per se right to an in-person TPR trial, provided that adequate safeguards are employed, and limited this to emergency public health circumstances. The ruling also concurred with the arguments in our brief on the fundamental liberty interest at stake in these cases. Read more.