Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Defendant confessed to committing a robbery and assault at a grocery store in a signed, sworn statement he made to the police. Defendant moved to suppress his statements to the police. The trial court denied the motion. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of multiple counts relating to the robbery of the grocery store. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the detectives failed to provide him with Miranda warnings while he was in custody and prior to asking him about the robbery. Defendant claimed that the initial questioning and the subsequent questioning after he was provided with a Miranda warning was a single, continuous interrogation that rendered the Miranda warning ineffective. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly denied the motion to suppress because, under the facts of this case, there was a sufficient separation between the initial questioning and the subsequent interrogation to render the Miranda warnings effective. View "State v. Donald" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to make a false statement in the second degree and conspiracy to fabricate physical evidence, arising from a single unlawful agreement. The Appellate Court remanded the case to the trial court with direction to merge the conspiracy to make a false statement in the second degree conviction into the conspiracy to fabricate physical evidence conviction and to resentence Defendant, concluding that Defendant’s conviction of both conspiracy counts on the basis of a single unlawful agreement violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the Appellate Court properly applied binding precedent and remanded Defendant’s case with direction to merge the two conspiracy convictions; but (2) in light of the Court’s subsequent decisions, Defendant is entitled to have his conviction of conspiracy to make a false statement in the second degree vacated. Remanded. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law
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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of six counts of the sale of narcotics by a person who is drug dependent, racketeering, and other drug-related offenses. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the jury trial, concluding (1) Defendant was entitled to a judgment of acquittal with respect to the racketeering conviction because the two predicate acts of racketeering identified by the jury did not constitute sufficient evidence of an enterprise; and (2) the trial court’s denial of a continuance effectively deprived Defendant of his right to self representation, and therefore, a new trial was required for the remaining offenses. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Appellate Court properly determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the racketeering conviction; but (2) with respect to the other convictions, the Appellate Court erred in determining that the denial of a continuance effectively deprived Defendant of his right to self representation. Remanded. View "State v. Bush" on Justia Law

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The State charged Defendant with murder and manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm. The jury rendered verdicts of guilty on both charges. Defendant filed a motion for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial, arguing that the verdicts were legally inconsistent. The trial court denied the motion, concluding (1) Defendant had waived the claim by failing to request a jury instruction that he could not be convicted of both charges; but (2) the verdict of guilty on the manslaughter charge must be vacated pursuant to case law because when a defendant is convicted of both a greater offense and a lesser included offense, the property remedy is to vacate the conviction on the lesser included offense. The Supreme Court vacated both guilty verdicts, holding (1) legally inconsistent verdicts involve jury error that may be raised for the first time after the verdicts have been returned or on appeal, and therefore, the trial court erred in determining that Defendant had waived his claims that the guilty verdicts were legally inconsistent; and (2) the verdicts were legally inconsistent, and neither verdict can stand. Remanded for a new trial. View "State v. Chyung" on Justia Law

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Melissa was the biological mother of Santiago, the minor child at issue in this case. Santiago was in the care of Maria from his birth until he was three years old. At that time, the Commissioner of Children and Families filed a motion for an order of temporary custody of Santiago on the basis of neglect. The trial court adjudicated Santiago neglected on the basis of abandonment by his biological parents and ordered him committed to the custody of the Commissioner. Thereafter, the Department of Children and Families filed a motion to terminate Melissa’s parental rights. Maria filed an amended motion to intervene as of right and permissively. The trial court denied the motion to intervene. Maria appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that Maria failed to plead a colorable claim of intervention as of right, and therefore, the trial court’s denial of her motion to intervene as of right was not a final judgment for purposes of this appeal. View "In re Santiago G." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a cause of action against a practice group and an orthopedic surgeon (collectively, Defendants), alleging medical malpractice during a spinal surgery. After the expiration of the pertinent statute of limitations, Plaintiff sought to amend his complaint. Plaintiff’s original complaint included allegations of the improper usage of a skull clamp, but his proposed amended complaint included allegations of the improper use of a retractor blade. The trial court narrowly construed the original complaint as limited to a claim of the negligent usage of the skull clamp and denied Plaintiff’s request to amend. Because Plaintiff had abandoned the theory that negligent use of the skull clamp had caused his injury, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s request to amend, broadly construing the original complaint as a claim of negligence in performing the surgery, which could be supported by either set of factual allegations. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus denying Defendants’ request that the Court adopt the narrower approach used by the trial court. View "Briere v. Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, P.C." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff were a class of state employees and retirees who were enrolled in an Anthem Insurance group health insurance plan at the time of the 2001 demutualization of Anthem Insurance Companies. Plaintiffs brought suit against former Governor John Rowland, the State, Anthem Insurance, and other insurance company defendants alleging that their participation in the plan entitled them to membership in Anthem Insurance and a share of the demutualization proceeds. Plaintiffs claimed that Anthem Insurance and the other insurance company defendants breached their contractual obligations by not paying Plaintiffs for their membership interests and instead distributing their share of the proceeds to the State. The Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiffs’ claims against Rowland and the State were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity or otherwise should have been dismissed. After a trial, the trial court rendered judgment for the remaining defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that the relevant contract provisions were ambiguous as to Plaintiffs’ eligibility for membership in Anthem Insurance and their entitlement to a share of the demutualization proceeds and properly considered extrinsic evidence to determine their meaning. View "Gold v. Rowland" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of home invasion, robbery in the first degree, larceny in the second degree, and assault of an elderly person in the third degree. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress certain statements he made to police because Defendant was not in custody when he made the statements; (2) the trial court improperly allowed a police officer to present certain testimony regarding cell phone records and maps, but the error was harmless; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions. View "State v. Edwards" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff, a Connecticut corporation that operates Domino’s pizza franchises, filed a petition for a declaratory ruling with the Labor Commissioner seeking a determination that it could pay a reduced minimum wage to its delivery drivers because they regularly receive gratuities that result in the drivers earning in excess of the minimum wage. Plaintiff relied on Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-60(b), which directs the Commissioner, acting through the Department of Labor, to adopt regulations that recognize that employers may include gratuities as part of the minimum fair wage for certain employees in the restaurant and hotel industries (tip credit). At issue in this case was whether the Department’s regulations that limit the tip credit to bartenders and traditional waitstaff and do not allow employers to count gratuities toward the minimum wage for other employees such as restaurant delivery drivers, conflict with the enabling statute. The Commissioner issued a declaratory ruling finding that Plaintiff’s drivers were not subject to a tip credit. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the regulations at issue are not incompatible with section 31-60(b). View "Amaral Brothers, Inc. v. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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Contractor and Homeowner entered into an agreement whereby Contractor agreed to furnish materials and supply labor in connection with renovations to Homeowner’s residence. After the renovation project was largely complete, the parties began to dispute the amounts that Homeowner owed Contractor. Contractor then brought this action claiming, inter alia, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Homeowner raised the special defense that Contractor’s claims were barred because the agreement did not comply with the Home Improvement Act. In response, Contractor argued that Homeowner was precluded from relying on the Act because his refusal to pay Contractor was in bad faith. The trial court agreed with Contractor and rendered judgment for Contractor. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Homeowner did not act in bad faith, and therefore, the trial court improperly found that Homeowner was barred from invoking the protection of the Act. Remanded with direction to render judgment for Homeowner. View "Burns v. Adler" on Justia Law