Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of murder, conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, and other crimes, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the appellate court correctly concluded that the trial court had not abused its discretion by admitting an audio recording allegedly containing Defendant's confession into evidence and by directing the jury to disregard portions of defense counsel's closing argument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the audio recording into evidence; and (2) any error by the trial court in precluding certain arguments made by defense counsel was harmless. View "State v. Rivera" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court terminating Parents' parental rights pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-112(j), holding that Parents were not entitled to relief on their three unpreserved constitutional claims relating to the virtual nature of the termination of parental rights trial.On appeal, Parents argued (1) the trial court violated their rights under Conn. Const. art. I, 10 and art. V, 1 by conducting the termination trial virtually rather than in person; (2) the trial court violated their constitutional right to due process by denying them the right to physically confront and cross-examine the witnesses against them at the virtual trial; and (3) the constitutional rights were violated when the trial court did not provide them with their own exclusive devices and internet connection to participate both visually and by audio in the trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Parents were not entitled to relief on their unpreserved claims of error. View "In re Vada V." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court, which vested permanent legal guardianship of Mother's minor child in a relative pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-129(j)(6), holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.On appeal, Mother argued that the trial court denied her right to due process by failing to ensure that she appeared by two-way video technology at a virtual trial. Alternatively, Mother asked the Court to adopt a procedural rule requiring that a trial court ensure that the parties appear by two-way videoconferencing technology or waive the right to do so before the court conducts a virtual trial in a child protection case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the record was inadequate to review Mother's first unpreserved claim; and (2) this Court declines Mother's invitation to invoke its supervisory authority to create such a rule. View "In re Aisjaha N." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court insofar as that court reversed the trial court's rulings on Parents' motions for posttermination visitation and affirmed the judgment insofar as the appellate court upheld the trial court's termination of Parent's parental rights, holding that the trial court correctly articulated the proper standard.The appellate court reversed the trial court's denial of Parents' posttermination visitation motions on the ground that the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard in considering these motions. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the appellate court (1) correctly concluded that Mother failed to establish that there exists a fundamental right under the Connecticut Constitution to an in-person termination of parental rights trial; and (2) improperly reversed the trial court's rulings on Parents' motions for failing to comply with the standard set forth in In re Ava W., 248 A.3d 675 (Conn. 2020), for deciding motions for posttermination visitation. View "In re Annessa J." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the trial court's judgment convicting Defendant of one count of murder, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his allegations on appeal.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the appellate court correctly concluded that the trial court (1) did not violate Defendant's Sixth Amendment right to present a defense by excluding from evidence a statement purportedly made by an unknown female bystander and an autopsy toxicology report; (2) did not violate Defendant's right to due process by declining to give a jury instruction on self-defense; and (3) did not abuse its discretion by declining to sanction the state for its late disclosure of the murder weapon and related expert reports by excluding this evidence or dismissing the murder charge. The Court further cautioned the State regarding the late disclosure of evidence. View "State v. Hargett" on Justia Law

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Convicted of murder in connection with a shooting death during a drug transaction, Ortiz challenged the prosecutor’s response, in rebuttal, to defense statements (made contrary to a pre-trial agreement) that, if the jury felt that he made a tactical mistake by not cross-examining the witness, it should not hold that against Ortiz; the prosecutor stated that there was no question about who the witness was with and what she saw, and that defense counsel ‘‘didn’t even [cross-examine] her.’’The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed. Any impropriety did not deprive Ortiz of a fair trial, as the prosecutor’s argument was brief, defense counsel did not object or ask for curative measures, and the defense invited the statement to some extent. Although the alleged impropriety related to witness credibility, an important issue, there was no reasonable probability that the verdict would have been different without the alleged impropriety. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in precluding defense counsel from impeaching other witnesses with evidence of certain prior felony convictions and in requiring two prior convictions to be referred to only as unnamed felonies punishable by more than one year of imprisonment. The trial court properly declined Ortiz’s request to include the word ‘‘conclusively’’ in its jury instruction on the use of evidence of the defendant’s uncharged misconduct. View "State v. Ortiz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court accepted and answered two certified questions of law regarding whether Plaintiff's claims pursuant to the Connecticut Product Liability Act (CPLA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572m et seq., were preempted by federal law and held that the CPLA's exclusivity provision, section 52-572n, barred Plaintiff's claims.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) a cause of action exists under the negligence or failure-to-warn provisions of the CPLA or elsewhere in Connecticut law based on a manufacturer's alleged failure to report adverse events to a regulator like the United States Food and Drug Administration following approval of the device or to comply with a regulator's postapproval requirements; and (2) CPLA's exclusivity provision bars a claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., based on allegations that a manufacturer deceptively and aggressively marketed and promoted a product despite knowing that it presented a substantial risk of injury. View "Glover v. Bausch & Lomb, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of felony murder, attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, and other offenses, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial.After Defendant was found guilty but before sentencing the Supreme Court decided State v. Purcell, 203 A.3d 542 (Conn. 2019). Defendant subsequently filed a motion for a new trial based on Purcell, arguing that the State's evidence at trial had included a video-recorded statement in which Defendant had made an equivocal request for counsel. The trial court agreed that Defendant's video-recorded statements was improperly admitted into evidence, but, with the exception of Defendant's conviction of carrying a pistol without a permit, the error was harmless. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the improper admission of Defendant's video-recorded statement was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court properly denied Defendant's motion for a new trial with respect to all but one of his convictions. View "State v. Alexander" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of home invasion, attempt to commit assault, reckless endangerment in the first degree, and two counts of risk of injury to a child, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (2) the jury did not return a legally inconsistent verdict in connection with the crimes of attempt to commit assault in the first degree and reckless endangerment; and (3) home invasion and attempt to commit assault in the first degree are not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes. View "State v. Abraham" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part the judgment of the trial court dismissing in part and denying in part Defendant's two motions to correct an illegal sentence, one filed in each of his two criminal cases, holding that the trial court erred in part.Defendant was convicted in two separate cases for crimes he committed when he was fifteen years old. The trial court dismissed in part and denied in part Defendant's two motions to correct an illegal sentence, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction over Defendant's claims to correct, and that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claim that his parole eligibility date, as calculated by the Board of Pardons and Parole, violated the terms of his plea agreement. The Supreme Court vacated in part, holding (1) the trial court should have denied, rather than dismissed, Defendant's claims that he was entitled to resentencing pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012); and (2) the form of the judgment was improper insofar as the trial court denied Defendant's claim that his new parole eligibility date violated the terms of his plea agreement. View "State v. Myers" on Justia Law