Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court awarding Plaintiff $899,480 in damages plus prejudgment interest for his claim that Defendant, the city of Norwalk, inversely condemned a commercial building by taking, through the power of eminent domain, Plaintiff’s parking lot located across the street. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court properly found that Defendant inversely condemned the commercial building because, after Defendant took the parking lot, the use of the commercial building was substantially destroyed; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Defendant’s judicial estoppel claim. View "Barton v. Norwalk" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of two counts of arson in the second degree, two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief in the first degree, and one count of conspiracy to commit burglary in the first degree. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant waived his unpreserved claim of instructional error under the rule in State v. Kitchens, 10 A.3d 942 (2011); (2) the prosecutor’s remarks informing certain prospective jurors that reasonable doubt is something less than 100 percent certainty did not adversely affect the fairness of Defendant’s trial; and (3) Defendant’s assertion that the trial court improperly prevented defense counsel from cross-examining key state witnesses about certain topics was unfounded. View "State v. Reyes" on Justia Law

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The court of appeals improperly concluded that a thirty-two delay in the execution of an arrest warrant, where the warrant was executed after the expiration of the limitation period, was reasonable as a matter of law such that the state was under no obligation to present evidence demonstrating that the delay was excusable. Defendant was arrested thirty-two days after the issuance of a warrant for his arrest and thirteen days after the expiration of the applicable five-year statute of limitations for his offense. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charge on the ground that the prosecution was barred by the statute of limitations because the delay in the execution of the warrant was unreasonable. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Appellate Court erred in affirming the trial court’s decision denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to State v. Crawford, A.2d 1034 (1987). View "State v. Swebilius" on Justia Law