Officially released July 10, 2018.
The short version: Judges should exercise restraint in how they address self-represented respondents.
The trial court granted a motion for restraining order, ex parte. After a hearing, the trial court extended that restraining order six months pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-15 based on a pattern of stalking. Both parties were self-represented. Defendant appealed as a self-represented appellant. Plaintiff did not participate in the appeal.
Defendant claimed bias and misconduct but did not preserve his claims property for appeal. The court may review an unpreserved claim of judicial bias for plain error, however, The Appellate Court found no bias.
Defendant made arguments that were construed as a claim that the trial court’s findings were clearly erroneous and it had abused its discretion by continuing the order six months. The record demonstrated that Defendant had contacted Plaintiff’s relatives, shown up at her place of work and homes of her relatives, sent hundreds of text messages including of a sexual nature, put video cameras outside of Plaintiff’s room, placed a GPS device on her car and arranged for a different vehicle to follow Plaintiff. The findings of fact were not clearly erroneous and the court did not abuse its discretion by finding that the facts constituted stalking under 46b-15.
 The following is contained in footnote 12 of the decision:
The court asked the defendant if he had any objection to the text messages that the plaintiff offered into evidence. He stated that he had “absolutely no objection.” The following colloquy transpired:
“The Court: You have no object[ion]; that’s terrific. I’m going to take all of those texts, and I’ll represent on the record that there’s at least, from what I can see here, about an inch to an inch and a quarter’s worth of a stack of texts. . . . It’s probably bigger than that. It’s probably an inch and three-quarters. Oh, this is quite telling, actually, sir, as I read through these. Horribly, horribly unpleasant exchanges. You’re smiling. . . . [Y]ou must think . . . [t]hat this is very amusing.
“[The Defendant]: No, I beg your pardon, Your Honor. . . . I have similar texts. These were the things that were happening in [the] relationship.
“The Court: No, sir. No, sir, maybe your relationships, but these are not things that happen in relationships.”
We have reviewed the text messages, including personal and intimate language and sexually explicit photographs, which are part of the record. We concur with the court’s description of some of them.
Tala E. H. v. Syed I., 183 Conn. App. 224, 241 n.12, 192 A.3d 494, 506 (2018)