Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's murder conviction and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the trial court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress. Defendant was arrested for drug offenses and the murder of the victim. Five days after Defendant's rent was due for a second month the police searched his apartment without a warrant. The police discovered the victim's cell phone hidden in a bathroom wall. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Defendant did not have a subjective expectation of privacy in the apartment at the time of the search because the lease had expired and Defendant had failed to make rent payments and to secure his belongings in the apartment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the facts of this case, Defendant established that the apartment was his home and neither his incarceration or his failure to pay rent five days after it was due divested him of his subjective expectation of privacy in his apartment; and (2) because the State did not argue that any error was harmless, the case is remanded for a new trial. View "State v. Jacques" 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 possession of narcotics with intent to sell by a person who is not drug-dependent, holding that the admission of certain hearsay evidence was erroneous, but the error was not of constitutional dimension and was not harmful. The hearsay statements at issue were used to establish that Defendant was the de facto owner of a vehicle registered to a third party. Defendant was a passenger in the vehicle when police officers discovered bricks of heroin and a large sum of cash. On appeal, Defendant argued that the admission of the hearsay statements, which were based on vehicle inspection records, violated his constitutional right to confront a witness against him. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment of conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statements regarding the inspection were testimonial but that improper admission of the hearsay evidence was not harmful. View "State v. Sinclair" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Father's postjudgment motion for a no contact order between his minor child and the child's maternal aunt, holding that Father failed to meet his burden of demonstrating a violation of his fundamental parental right to make decisions regarding his child's associations. Father was granted custody of the child after Mother's death. Plaintiffs, the maternal grandparents, were involved in the child's life until Father terminated their contact. The trial court granted Plaintiffs' petition for visitation. Father filed a postjudgment motion for order asking the trial court to enter an order requiring Plaintiffs to allow no contact between the child and the child's maternal aunt. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that Father failed to produce evidence to show the child's contact with the aunt was inappropriate or put the child in danger. Father appealed, arguing that the trial court's failure to direct Plaintiffs to abide by his parental decisions regarding the child's care violated Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-59 and the Due Process Clause. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Father was not entitled to relief because he failed, as a threshold matter, to articulate a reason in support of the requested condition. View "Boisvert v. Gavis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court granting Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Petitioner established good cause for failing to raise his claim at trial or on direct appeal that he was deprived of his right to counsel. Following a jury trial, Petitioner was found guilty of sexual assault and risk of injury. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he had wrongfully been denied counsel at his criminal trial. Petitioner failed to raise a claim related to that deprivation either at trial or on direct appeal. The State filed a return asserting an affirmative defense of procedural default. The habeas court granted the petition, concluding that a claim of public defender error was not procedurally defaulted. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, for purposes of determining whether a habeas claim is barred by procedural default, prejudice is presumed when the petitioner is completely denied his right to counsel. View "Newland v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, in light of Patsy v. Board of Regents, 457 U.S. 496, 501 (1982), and its progeny, a plaintiff is not required to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing a 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim in state court, regardless of the type of relief sought, and therefore, this Court's holdings in Pet v. Department of Health Services, 542 A.2d 672 (1988), and Laurel Park, Inc. v. Pac, 485 A.2d 1272 (1984), that exhaustion of state administrative remedies is a jurisdictional prerequisite to the filing of a section 1983 action for injunctive relief are overruled. Plaintiff, a homeowner who was the subject of several enforcement action under a municipal blight ordinance, brought a claim alleging a deprivation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff's section 1983 claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed with respect to Plaintiff's section 1983 claims, holding that Plaintiff was not required to exhaust his state administrative remedies prior to filing his section 1983 claims in state court. View "Mangiafico v. Farmington" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction, holding that Defendant's statements during interrogation did not meet the standard set forth in Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 459-60 (1994), so as to require suppression but that a more protective prophylactic rule set forth in this opinion is required under the Connecticut constitution to adequately safeguard the right against self-incrimination. Defendant was convicted of three counts of risk of injury to a child. On appeal, Defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress certain statements he made during interrogation, arguing that the statements had been elicited after he invoked his right to have counsel present. The Appellate Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's references to counsel would not have been understood by a reasonable police officer as an expression of a present desire to consult with counsel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant's statements during the interrogation did not constitute an invocation of his right to counsel under Davis; (2) however, the state Constitution requires that police officers clarify an ambiguous request for counsel before they can continue the interrogation; and (3) because no such clarification was elicited in this case, and the failure to do so was harmful, Defendant was entitled to a new trial. View "State v. Purcell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court granting Defendant's motions to suppress all cell site location information (CSLI) obtained by the State as a result of three ex parte orders that had been granted pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-47aa, holding that because the State obtained did not obtain Defendant's historical CSLI based on a warrant supported by reasonable cause, the records were obtained in violation of Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. The State obtained the CSLI at issue solely on the basis of a reasonable and articulable suspicion. The State conceded that it obtained the CSLI in violation of section 54-47aa. The trial court determined that suppression of both the historical and the prospective CSLI was the appropriate remedy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly granted Defendant's motions to suppress the CSLI records because the records were obtained illegally and because suppression was the appropriate remedy as to the illegally obtained records; and (2) the trial court properly determined that suppression of those records also required that Defendant's statement and potential testimony be suppressed. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence discovered by the police during the forcible detention of Defendant, holding that Defendant's detention violated his Fourth Amendment rights under Navarette v. California, 572 U.S. 393 (2014). Defendant was detained pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) on the basis of an anonymous telephone tip regarding "a young man that has a handgun." After Defendant was detained, the police saw him drop an object in a garbage can. A subsequent search revealed that the object was a handgun. Defendant was charged with criminal possession of a pistol and carrying a pistol without a permit. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that his detention was unconstitutional because the anonymous tip did not give rise to a reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in, or was about to be engaged in, criminal activity. Therefore, Defendant argued that the handgun was tainted as the result of his unlawful seizure. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the anonymous telephone call did not give rise to a reasonable suspicion that Defendant was in possession of a handgun, justifying an investigative Terry stop. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the habeas court denying Petitioner’s habeas petition, holding that the State did not violate the due process of Petitioner by not disclosing an alleged agreement between the State and a testifying accomplice in Petitioner’s underlying criminal case and by failing to correct the accomplice’s allegedly false testimony that no such agreement existed. On appeal, Petitioner asked the Supreme Court to conclude, contrary to the determination of the lower courts, that the State had an agreement with the accomplice that it had not disclosed in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and that the nondisclosure of this agreement was material. The Supreme Court affirmed on the alternative basis that, even assuming that the State had no undisclosed deal with the accomplice, there was no reasonable likelihood that disclosure of the agreement would have affected the judgment of the jury. Therefore, the lack of any disclosure was immaterial under Brady and there was no due process violation. View "Marquez v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the appellate court reversing in part the judgment of the habeas court granting in part Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus on the ground that Petitioner’s defense counsel had provided ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that Petitioner was not prejudiced by counsel's strategy. Petitioner was convicted of murder after a second trial. The Supreme Court affirmed. Thereafter, Petitioner brought his habeas petition, claiming that his defense counsel had provided ineffective assistance by failing to adequately prepare and present an alibi defense and by failing to present a third-party culpability defense. The appellate court concluded (1) it was reasonable trial strategy not to present an alibi defense; (2) Petitioner’s claim of inadequate investigation of the alibis defense was unpreserved; and (3) Petitioner was not prejudiced by counsel’s failure to present a third-party culpability defense. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) it was not deficient performance for defense counsel not to present an alibi defense; and (2) it was not deficient performance of prejudicial for defense counsel not to present a third-party culpability defense. View "Johnson v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law