Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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The trial court correctly determined that pretrial disposition conferences, when they are conducted in chambers and off the record, do not constitute “court proceedings the accused has the right to attend” within the meaning of amendment 29(b)(5) of the Connecticut Constitution. Plaintiff in error brought this writ of error claiming that the trial court improperly precluded him from attending plea negotiations and other discussions during in-chambers, pretrial disposition conferences in the criminal prosecution of Kyle Damato-Kushel. Plaintiff in error, the alleged victim, argued that the trial court’s ruling barring his attendance at the pretrial disposition conferences involving the court, the prosecutor, and defense counsel violated his rights under article first, section eight of the Connecticut Constitution, as amended by articles seventeen and twenty-nine of the amendments. The Supreme Court dismissed the writ of error, holding that neither the victim nor his authorized representative has a right to attend such conferences. View "State v. Damato-Kushel" on Justia Law

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The right to bail under Conn. Const. art. I, section 8 is extinguished upon a finding of guilt, accepted by the court, and does not continue until the defendant has been sentenced for that offense. Defendant was released pretrial on a $1 million bond. The trial court increased the bond to $1.5 million following the jury’s verdict finding Defendant guilty of murder and other offenses, pending sentences. Six weeks later, the court revoked Defendant’s bail on the ground that it lacked authority to release him under Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-63f. Defendant petitioned for review, arguing that, to the extent that section 54-63f bars the release of persons who have been convicted of homicide offenses pending sentencing, it is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court granted the petition fro review but denied Defendant’s request for relief, holding (1) in the period preceding 1965, when the constitutional provision for bail was amended, there was no constitutional right to bail between conviction and sentence; and (2) the 1965 amendment did not expand the temporal scope of this right. View "State v. Patel" on Justia Law

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Conn. Gen. Stat. 18-98d requires that if a person serving a term of imprisonment exercises his constitutional right to pursue a double jeopardy claim on a charge for which the sentence may run concurrently, that person is entitled, in any sentence subsequently imposed, to a reduction based on such presentence confinement in accordance with the provisions of the statute. The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the habeas court that denied Petitioner’s amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which alleged, among other things, that the calculation of his presentence confinement credit was incorrect. The Supreme Court held that interpreting section 18-98d so as to deny Petitioner presentence confinement credit for the time he was pursuing a double jeopardy appeal would render the application of that statute to him unconstitutional. View "James v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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Under certain circumstances, the privileged psychiatric records of a witness testifying for the state are subject to in camera review by the trial court so that the court can determine whether the accused’s constitutional right of confrontation allows him or her to access those records. Defendant was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree with a firearm. Defendant claimed that the trial court erred in declining to extend its holding in State v. Esposito, 471 A.2d 949 (1984), and violated his constitutional right to present a defense when it refused to conduct an in camera review of certain records of the victim protected by the psychiatrist-patient privilege where Defendant alleged that those records contained information material to his claim of self-defense. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the interests of an accused must prevail over a homicide victim’s psychiatrist-patient privilege when the accused makes a sufficient showing that the privileged information is pertinent to a claim of self-defense; but (2) Defendant’s constitutional claims were not adequately preserved at trial, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to review under State v. Golding, 267 A.2d 832 (1989). View "State v. Fay" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Petitioner alleging that a 2013 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125a repealing a provision advancing certain inmates’ parole eligibility dates by earned risk reduction credit violated the ex post facto clause of the federal constitution. The habeas court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that Petitioner suffered no increase in punishment that would constitute a violation of the ex post facto clause. The Supreme Court affirmed for the reasons set forth in Perez v. Commissioner of Correction, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2017), holding that the habeas court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Petitioner’s ex post facto claim. View "James E. v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court’s conclusion that Defendant failed to establish that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in a residence he had leased to a third party. Defendant was charged with drug related offenses after the police found marijuana plants during a search at the residence. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence gathered during the search and his subsequent incriminating statements to the police as the fruits of a warrantless and illegal search. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant then entered a conditional plea of nolo contendere. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts, holding (1) Defendant lacked standing to challenge the warrantless search of the property because Defendant lacked a subjective expectation of privacy therein; and (2) the police possessed a reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Defendant and later had probable cause to arrest him. View "State v. Houghtaling" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of identity theft in the third degree, credit card theft, illegal use of a credit card, and larceny in the sixth degree. Contrary to Defendant’s arguments on appeal, the trial court did not err (1) in precluding Defendant from arguing third-party culpability and denying his corresponding request for a jury instruction, and (2) when it sentenced Defendant on the charges of identity theft, illegal use of a credit card, and the lesser included offense of larceny in the sixth degree because those convictions did not violate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. View "State v. Schovanec" on Justia Law

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The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed defendant's conviction for breach of the peace in the second degree in connection with a customer dispute with a supermarket employee. The court held that the conviction constituted a violation of the First Amendment to the United States constitution because defendant's speech, unaccompanied by threats, did not fall within the narrow category of unprotected fighting words. In this case, the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the employee was likely to have retaliated with violence in response to defendant's words under the circumstances in which they were uttered. Accordingly, the court remanded for a judgment of acquittal. View "State v. Baccala" on Justia Law