Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant’s judgment of conviction, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for attempt to commit murder under the substantial step provision of Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-49(a)(2) because the determination of what constitutes a substantial step focuses on what the actor has already done rather than on what the actor has left to do to complete the substantive crime. The Appellate Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to sustain Defendant’s conviction of attempted murder after construing section 53a-49(a)(2) to require the substantial step inquiry to focus on what the actor has already done rather than what remains to be done. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was ample evidence from which a jury could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant took a substantial step to murder the intended victim. View "State v. Daniel B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to correct on illegal sentence, holding that the Appellate Court’s thorough and well reasoned opinion fully addressed Defendant’s question certified to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted Defendant’s petition for certification to appeal, limited to the question of whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that Defendant’s sentence was not illegal, did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause, and did not run contrary to legislative intent. The Supreme Court adopted the Appellate Court’s opinion as the proper statement of the issues and the applicable law concerning those issues and affirmed. View "State v. Henderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the habeas court rejecting Petitioner’s claim that a 2013 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125a, as applied retroactively to him, violated the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution, holding that the ex post facto clause barred the Commissioner of Correction from applying the 2013 amendment retroactively to Petitioner. The amendment at issue eliminated risk reduction credit awarded pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 18-93e from the calculation of a violent offender’s initial parole eligibility date. Petitioner argued argued that, under the version of section 54-125a in effect when he committed his offenses, he was entitled to have any such credit that he had earned applied to advance his initial parole eligibility date. The habeas court concluded that Petitioner failed to establish an ex post facto violation. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the 2013 amendment to section 54-125a, as applied to Petitioner, violated the ex post facto clause. View "Garner v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the habeas court dismissing Petitioner’s petition for habeas corpus, holding that the ex post facto clause barred the Commissioner of Correction from applying a 2013 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125a to Petitioner. The amendment at issue eliminated risk reduction credit awarded pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 18-93e from the calculation of a violent offender’s initial parole eligibility date, thus requiring the offender to complete eighty-five percent of his sentence before becoming eligible from parole. Petitioner argued that he was statutorily entitled to earlier parole consideration when he committed the crimes for which he was incarcerated. The habeas court concluded that Petitioner failed to establish an ex post facto violation. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the 2013 amendment to section 54-125a(b)(2), as applied to Petitioner, violated the ex post facto clause. View "Breton v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this dispute over a public records request, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the search and seizure statutes, Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-33a through 54-36p, do not satisfy the requirements set forth in Conn. Get Stat. 1-210(a), which exempts documents from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act that are “otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute….” The Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection received a request from The Hartford Courant Company and its reporter (collectively, Courant), seeking copies of documents referred to in a report prepared by the Connecticut State police on the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When the Department did not timely respond to the request, Courant filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission. The Commission concluded that the documents were public records under the Act. The trial court, however, concluded that the documents were exempt from disclosure pursuant to section 1-210(a) because they were seized pursuant to a search warrant as part of the criminal investigation of the incident. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that that records governed by the search and seizure statutes are not exempt from disclosure under the Act. View "Commissioner of Emergency Services & Public Protection v. Freedom of Information Commission" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s judgment of conviction of three counts of illegal practices in campaign financing, holding that the trial court improperly instructed the jury as to the applicable mens rea for the crime of illegal campaign financing practices. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury that to find him guilty of an illegal campaign financing practice it must find that he acted with specific intent to violate Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-622(7). The State countered that the trial court properly instructed the jury that it had to find that Defendant acted with general intent. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the jury was not properly instructed regarding the applicable mens rea for the crime of illegal practices in campaign financing, and it was reasonably possible that the jury was misled. View "State v. Newton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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