Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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In these public interest appeals arising from a mix-up at a high school polling place in the town of Stratford where approximately seventy-six voters received the incorrect ballots, rendering those voters unable to cast a vote for their assembly district's state representative, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court insofar as it dismissed Plaintiff's complaint and reversed the trial court's judgment with respect to its issuance of a temporary injunction, holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims and similarly lacked jurisdiction to issue a temporary injunction. Plaintiff, a Republic Party's candidate for state representative, brought this action seeking declaratory relief, a new election, and injunction prohibiting certain state defendants from declaring the intervening defendant, the Democratic Party's candidate, as the winner of that election. The trial court dismissed the complaint in part as barred by the elections clause set forth in Conn. Const. art. III, 7 but granted Plaintiff's application for a temporary injunction. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the elections clause gives the state House of Representatives exclusive jurisdiction over this election contest; and (2) the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enjoin the state defendants from canvassing the votes and declaring a winner, even temporarily. View "Feehan v. Marcone" on Justia Law

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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

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In this dispute over compensation owed after property was taken by eminent domain, the Supreme Court reversed the interest awarded by the trial court and otherwise affirmed the judgment, holding that the trial court lacked authority to set a rate of interest other than the default rate after it rendered its judgment of compensation. Plaintiff, the city of Hartford, took certain property owned by three defendants. Defendants appealed from the statement of compensation filed by the city. The trial court sustained the appeal and increased the amount of compensation. The court then ordered the city to pay interest at the rate of 7.22 percent. The Supreme Court reversed as to the rate of interest and offer of compromise interest, holding (1) the trial court properly valued the property; but (2) the trial court exceeded its authority under Conn. Gen. Stat. 37-3c in awarding interest at the rate of 7.22 percent after it rendered judgment sustaining Defendants’ appeal because Defendants were entitled only to the default rate of interest provided in section 37-3c. The Court remanded the case with direction to award the default rate of interest under section 37-3c. View "Hartford v. CBV Parking Hartford, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of threatening in the first degree, two counts of disorderly conduct, and breach of the peace in the second degree, holding that Defendant’s arguments on appeal were unavailing. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the threatening charge on the ground that Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-61aa(a)(3) is unconstitutional as violating free speech protections; (2) the trial court properly considered evidence of events that occurred after Defendant sent a threatening email to support its conclusion that Defendant violated section 53a-61aa(a)(3); and (3) the evidence was sufficient beyond a reasonable doubt to convict Defendant of threatening in the first degree in violation of section 53a-61aa(a)(3). View "State v. Taupier" on Justia Law

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In this criminal case, the Supreme Court held that the due process guarantee in Connecticut Constitution in article first, section 8 provides somewhat broader protection than the United States Constitution with respect to the admissibility of eyewitness identification testimony. Defendant was convicted of felony murder, among other crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court violated his federal due process rights by denying his motion to suppress an out-of-court and subsequent in-court identification of him by an eyewitness to the crimes of which Defendant was convicted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the out-of-court identification procedure was unnecessarily suggestive, but the identification of Defendant was nevertheless sufficiently reliable to satisfy federal due process requirements, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to suppression of those identifications; and (2) the due process guarantee in Conn. Const. art. I, 8 provides broader protection than the federal constitution with respect to the admissibility of eyewitness identification testimony, but the trial court’s failure to apply this state constitutional standard was harmless. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

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In this habeas proceeding, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court holding that defense counsel’s delay in presenting to Petitioner a favorable plea offer from the prosecutor during trial amounted to deficient performance pursuant to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Petitioner was convicted of felony murder. Petitioner sought a writ of habeas corpus claiming that her trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance when he delayed presenting to her a favorable plea offer, an offer that the prosecutor later withdrew before it could be accepted. The habeas court agreed and concluded that Petitioner was prejudiced by counsel’s deficient performance. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, the habeas court and Appellate Court properly determined that counsel’s delay in conveying the plea offer to Petitioner amounted to deficient performance. View "Helmedach v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law