ADOPTION OF LUC. 
Heard: September 5, 2018.
Petition filed in the Suffolk County Division of the Juvenile
Court Department on September 23, 2013. The case was heard by
Peter M. Coyne, J.
M. Unger for the mother.
Pariser for Department of Children and Families.
D. Cohen for the child.
Present: Hanlon, Sullivan, & Desmond, JJ.
mother appeals from a decree issued by a judge of the
Juvenile Court terminating parental rights to her son, Luc.
See G. L. c. 210, § 3. She contends that (1) the judge
based his findings on dictation notes and reports of a
deceased social worker that contained inadmissible hearsay;
(2) the admissible evidence did not support a finding of
unfitness; and (3) the lengthy delay between the witness
testimony and the judge's findings of fact rendered the
findings unreliable. We conclude that the dictation notes and
reports were admissible, the evidence was sufficient, and the
delay was not prejudicial. We therefore affirm.
mother's threshold claim is that the judge erroneously
admitted dictation notes taken and reports prepared by
Department of Children and Families (DCF) social worker
Stephen McMorrow. After McMorrow testified on direct
examination, the trial was continued for several months. In
the interim, before the mother had an opportunity to
cross-examine him, McMorrow died. The judge struck
McMorrow's testimony, but admitted his dictation notes,
reports, and assessments, subject to rebuttal, and with
certain limitations. The judge meticulously interlineated
ninety pages of the record with rulings and redactions,
admitting statements of fact, and excluding opinion and
impressions. Melissa Thibodeau, who was McMorrow's
supervisor, testified in his stead, and was permitted (over
objection) to summarize certain aspects of his reports.
a care and protection proceeding, evidence is 'admissible
according to the rules of the common law and the General
Laws.'" Care & Protection of Zita, 455
Mass. 272, 279 (2009), quoting G. L. c. 119, §
"The general admissibility of case work documents and
court investigator reports is no longer seriously in
question." Adoption of Iris, 43 Mass.App.Ct.
95, 100 n.8 (1997). See Adoption of Paula, 420 Mass.
716, 725 (1995); Adoption of George, 27 Mass.App.Ct.
265, 274 (1989). The rationale underlying these cases is
that service plans, case reviews, and foster care reviews are
admissible pursuant to "the public documents or official
records hearsay exception [that] authorizes admission of the
record of a primary fact made by a public officer in the
course of official duty." Adoption of George,
supra at 272. See Adoption of Vidal, 56
Mass.App.Ct. 916, 916 (2002); Mass. G. Evid. §
1115(b)(2)(C) (2018). Cf. Mass. Guide Evid. § 803(8)(A).
mother contends that the dictation notes are not an official
record because they are not required by statute, unlike
reports of social workers, court investigators, and guardians
ad litem, and those reports made pursuant to G. L. c. 119,
§§ 51A and 51B. See G. L. c. 119, §§ 21,
21A, 24; G. L. c. 215, § 56A; and G. L. c. 119,
§§ 51A (a.), 51B (c0, respectively. The dictation
notes are required by regulation, and are therefore made in
the course of an official duty. See 102 Code Mass. Regs.
§ 5.13(2) (b) (12) (1998). Section 5.13 (2) (b) (12)
requires that case workers maintain "case notes
documenting contacts and services set forth in 102 [Code
Mass. Regs. §§] 5.05(1) and (3), 5.06, and
5.07" for each child.
properly promulgated regulation has the force of law and must
be given the same deference accorded to a statute."
Global NAPs, Inc. v. Awiszus, 457
Mass. 489, 496 (2010) . See Dexter v.
Superintendent, Massachusetts Correctional Inst.,
Concord, 88 Mass.App.Ct. 325, 326 (2015). The dictation
notes were taken as required by law, in the course of
McMorrow's duties, and are an official record within the
meaning of the statutes. See Adoption of George, 27
Mass.App.Ct. at 272. The notes formed the basis of reports
signed by McMorrow and his supervisor. See Adoption of
George, supra ("It would be anomalous to
require keeping of these records on the one hand while
requiring that they be entirely ignored on the other when the
case is under judicial review").
dictation notes and the reports were admissible subject to
two conditions. "The first of two conditions that limit
the receipt in evidence of [DCF] reports is that the reports
must either be limited to a statement of facts, or redacted
to exclude opinion, diagnosis or evaluation." Care
& Protection of Bruce, 44 Mass.App.Ct. 758, 766
(1998). We have reviewed the record and are satisfied that
the judge made the necessary rulings and redactions of
statements of evaluation, impression, and ...