Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant’s conviction of four counts of sexual assault in the second degree and three counts of risk of injury to a child, holding that the Appellate Court did not err in concluding that Defendant had waived any claim regarding his presence at sidebar conferences. Throughout the trial, both the defense and the state utilized sidebar conferences to make any detailed arguments on evidentiary objections. On appeal, Defendant argued that he had a right to be present at the sidebar conferences. The Appellate Court affirmed, concluding that Defendant had waived any claim related to his presence at the sidebar conferences by agreeing to the procedure proposed by the trial court for handling arguments on evidentiary objections. The Supreme Court affirmed, noting that it would serve no purpose to repeat the discussion contained in the Appellate Court’s decision. View "State v. Tierinni" on Justia Law

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Exercising jurisdiction over Defendant-insurer under the circumstances of this case was permitted by Connectictut’s corporate long arm statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 33-929(f)(1), and comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendant issued an automobile insurance policy covering a vehicle driven by Insured. The policy was written in New York at Defendant’s principal place of business, and Defendant did not direct or participate in any business transactions in Connecticut at the time. The coverage territory of the policy included Connecticut. Insured’s vehicle later collided with a vehicle occupied by Plaintiffs. A judgment was rendered against Insured in favor of Plaintiffs. Defendant failed to defend Insured or to indemnify him for the judgment rendered against him. Plaintiffs then brought this action against Defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s agreement to defend and indemnify Insured established personal jurisdiction under the long arm statute and that subjecting Defendant to the jurisdiction of this state comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. View "Samelko v. Kingstone Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Exercising jurisdiction over Defendant-insurer under the circumstances of this case was permitted by Connectictut’s corporate long arm statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 33-929(f)(1), and comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendant issued an automobile insurance policy covering a vehicle driven by Insured. The policy was written in New York at Defendant’s principal place of business, and Defendant did not direct or participate in any business transactions in Connecticut at the time. The coverage territory of the policy included Connecticut. Insured’s vehicle later collided with a vehicle occupied by Plaintiffs. A judgment was rendered against Insured in favor of Plaintiffs. Defendant failed to defend Insured or to indemnify him for the judgment rendered against him. Plaintiffs then brought this action against Defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s agreement to defend and indemnify Insured established personal jurisdiction under the long arm statute and that subjecting Defendant to the jurisdiction of this state comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. View "Samelko v. Kingstone Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this habeas corpus proceeding, the Supreme Court held that the habeas court properly concluded that Petitioner was entitled to a new trial because counsel in his murder case rendered ineffective assistance. On appeal by the Commissioner of Correction from the habeas court’s decision, the Supreme Court held that the habeas court properly found (1) counsel’s failure to obtain readily available evidence that he should have known was potentially critical to Petitioner’s alibi defense was constitutionally inexcusable; and (2) counsel’s inadequate performance resulted in prejudice to Petitioner sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of Petitioner’s criminal trial. View "Skakel v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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A court may look to the evidence presented at trial when determining if a defendant’s conviction violated the constitution prohibition against double jeopardy. Defendant appealed his convictions of assault of public safety personnel and interfering with an officer, arguing that the two convictions constituted a double jeopardy violation. To resolve Defendant’s claim, the Appellate Court reviewed evidence presented at trial and concluded that the two crimes did not stem from the same conduct. Consequently, the Appellate Court concluded that Defendant did not satisfy the requirements to establish a double jeopardy violation in the context of a single trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Court properly reviewed the evidence to determine that the offenses in question did not arise from the same act or transaction; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s conviction did not violate double jeopardy. View "State v. Porter" on Justia Law

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Any error in the trial court’s acceptance of Defendant’s waiver of the right to counsel following the court’s canvass was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to a new trial. Defendant was charged with crimes in connection with a robbery. Before trial, Defendant moved to discharge his appointed public defender and to represent himself. After canvassing Defendant about his decision, the trial court granted the motion. About four months later, the trial court canvassed Defendant a second time regarding his decision to represent himself. Defendant responded affirmatively. After the ensuing trial, Defendant was found guilty of certain crimes stemming from the robbery. On appeal, Defendant argued that the first canvass was inadequate, and therefore, his initial waiver of the right to counsel was not knowing and voluntary. The Appellate Court concluded that the first canvass was deficient but that the error was harmless inasmuch as Defendant was canvassed a second time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that any inadequacy in the first canvass was harmless as a result of the second, adequate canvass. View "State v. Cushard" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s action against Defendants in their individual capacities was properly dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff, an inmate, brought this action against defendant state employees in their official and invidious capacities, alleging that they had violated his constitutional rights because they were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the claims against Defendants in their individual capacities because Plaintiff failed properly to serve Defendants in their individual capacities pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-57(a). The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court fully considered and properly resolved the issue against Plaintiff. View "Harnage v. Lightner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of capital felony, two counts of murder, and other crimes. Defendant was sentenced to death plus forty-five years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant raised thirty-five claims, including twenty-one claims pertaining to the penalty phase of his trial. After Defendant had been sentenced to death, the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty. See State v. Santiago, 122 A.3d 1 (Conn. 2015). The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction, holding (1) Defendant’s claims challenging the penalty phase were not yet ripe, and therefore, the court declined to resolve whether they had been rendered moot by Santiago; and (2) Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his remaining claims. View "State v. Campbell" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not err in determining that Plaintiffs failed to establish that the state’s educational offerings are not minimally adequate under Conn. Const. art. VIII, 1. Plaintiffs brought this action seeking, inter alia, a declaratory judgment that various state officials and members of the State Board of Education failed to provide “suitable and substantially equal educational opportunities” in violation of Conn. Const. art. VIII, 1 and Conn. Const. art. I, 1 and 20, as amended by articles five and twenty-one of the amendments. The trial court concluded that the state’s educational policies and spending practices violate article eighth, section one and rejected Plaintiffs’ remaining arguments. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Plaintiffs failed to establish that Defendants violated Plaintiffs’ rights under article eighth, section one and article first, sections one and twenty. View "Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education, Inc. v. Rell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of felony murder, home invasion, and robbery in the first degree, among other crimes. The Supreme Court held that the Appellate Court improperly concluded that the trial court (1) violated Defendant’s constitutional right to present a defense by conditioning its ruling that certain out-of-court statements were inadmissible under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 68 (2004), on Defendant not presenting evidence regarding the statements; and (2) abused its discretion by admitting testimony from a police detective indicating that he had observed a purported bite mark on Defendant’s accomplice’s hand. Lastly, any claimed impropriety with respect to the admission testimony by a police detective who narrated the presentation of a bus surveillance video was harmless error. View "State v. Holley" on Justia Law