Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of three counts of sexual assault in the first degree and other crimes, holding that neither the structure nor the content of the prosecutor's closing argument deprived Defendant of his constitutional rights.On appeal, Defendant argued that the prosecutor deprived him of his constitutional rights to present a closing argument and to a fair trial by reserving her analysis of certain evidence for the rebuttal portion of closing argument and by mischaracterizing other evidence during rebuttal. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's claims of prosecutorial impropriety failed. View "State v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court, which affirmed the judgment of the habeas court denying Petitioner's amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by his trial counsel's failure to object to the prosecutor's improper comments during closing argument at Petitioner's criminal trial.Petitioner was convicted of murder. On appeal, the appellate court concluded that at least one of the prosecutor's comments during closing argument violated Petitioner's constitutional right to a fair trial but that Petitioner had not been prejudiced by the improper remarks. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the failure to Petitioner's criminal trial counsel to object to the prosecutor's improper remarks did not undermine the Court's confidence in the verdict. View "Ross v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to entertain Defendant's motion because the motion sought only to modify Defendant's conviction, not his sentence.Defendant was convicted of felony murder and manslaughter. The trial court merged the conviction for manslaughter with the felony murder conviction for sentencing purposes. In his motion to correct an illegal sentence, Defendant argued that his sentence was illegal under the supervisory rule set forth in State v. Polanco, 61 A.3d 1084 (2013). The trial court concluded that Polanco did not apply retroactively and denied the motion. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendant, Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State, intros action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to Defendant's change of the absentee ballot application for the August 11, 2020 primary election to add COVID-19 as a new reason for requesting an absentee ballot pursuant to Executive Order No. 7QQ, holding that the trial court did not err.At issue in this public interest appeal was whether Governor Ned Lamont's executive order, which was later ratified by the legislature and which modified Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-135 by adding COVID-19 as a permissible reason for absentee voting violates Conn. Const. art. VI, 7. The trial court granted jumtgnet for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Executive Order No. 7QQ does not violate Article 6, Section 7. View "Fay v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court denying habeas corpus relief after concluding that the doctrine of collateral estoppel barred Petitioner from litigating the issue of whether he was prejudiced he was prejudiced by his counsel's failure to object to the prosecutor's improper comments during closing argument at his criminal trial, holding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate prejudice.Petitioner, who was convicted of murder, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that his criminal trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by, among other things, failing to object to the prosecutor's improper remarks during closing argument. The court denied the petition, concluding that Petitioner had failed to demonstrate that he had suffered prejudice. The appellate court affirmed on the grounds that Petitioner was collaterally estopped from litigating the issue of prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the doctrine of collateral estoppel did not apply; and (2) Petitioner failed to demonstrate prejudice from his counsel's performance. View "Ross v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court revoking Defendant's probation and sentencing him to a two-year term of imprisonment, holding that the trial court did not improperly deny Defendant's motion to dismiss the violation of probation charge.On appeal, Defendant argued that the condition of probation upon which the violation of probation charged was predicated violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection as well as the Eighth Amendment prohibition against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's claims on appeal failed. View "State v. Imperiale" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of the sexual assault of a twelve-year-old girl and his sentence of thirty-three years, holding that the trial court's enhancement of Defendant's sentence was not fundamentally unfair.On appeal, Defendant argued that, at sentencing, the trial court violated his due process right by penalizing him for refusing to apologize for his criminal misconduct. Specifically, Defendant argued that his sentence contravened his constitutional right against self-incrimination because an apology would necessarily have required him to admit guilt. The Appellate Court affirmed, concluding that there was no evidentiary support for Defendant's contention that the trial court had increased his sentence because of his unwillingness to apologize to the victims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court properly concluded that the trial court did not penalize Defendant for maintaining his innocence at sentencing. View "State v. Angel M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of conviction rendered by the trial court following Defendant's conditional plea of nolo contendere to the charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, holding that the trial court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress.On appeal, Defendant argued that she was illegally detained, along with her codefendant, in a car in the parking lot of a multiunit apartment building because the police lacked either a warrant or a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's detention was not permissible under the exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement articulated in Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, and Bailey v. United States, 568 U.S. 186 (2013) because Defendant was not within the "immediate vicinity" of the apartment to be searched. View "State v. Espino" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of conviction rendered by the trial court following Defendant's conditional plea of nolo contendere to the charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, holding that the trial court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress.Defendant sought to suppress evidence seized after his warrantless detention in the parking lot of a multiunit apartment building. The trial court denied the suppression motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant was not an "occupant" within the "immediate vicinity" of the premises subject to a search warrant under the exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement set forth in Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981), and Bailey v. United States, 568 U.S. 186 (2013). View "State v. Rolon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of two counts of sexual assault in the first degree and one count of criminal attempt to commit sexual assault in the first degree, holding that there was no error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not violate Defendant's right to confrontation by allowing testimony about the results of a DNA identification analysis without requiring testimony from the individual who generated the DNA profiles; (2) Defendant's claim that his due process rights were violated by the introduction of DNA identification evidence that was allegedly unreliable failed under the third prong of State v. Golding, 567 A.2d 823 (Conn. 1989); and (3) there was sufficient evidence to establish Defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law