Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
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

by
The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed defendant's murder conviction and held that defendant expressly waived his claim that the trial court incorrectly failed to strike a witness's improper testimony. In this case, defendant had approved of the trial court's proposed remedy by expressing satisfaction with the trial court's plan to use an instruction, by declining to request action by the trial court, and by ultimately approving of the trial court's proposed instruction. The court also held that defendant's claim that the trial court improperly permitted the victim's mother to testify that she had heard information relating defendant to the victim's disappearance on the ground that it constituted inadmissible hearsay was unpreserved and unreviewable. View "State v. Miranda" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
At issue was whether the Appellate Court correctly concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for breach of the peace and whether the Appellate Court correctly concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a judgment against Defendant of attempted larceny in the sixth degree. The Supreme Court (1) dismissed Defendant’s appeal as to the first issue on the ground that certification was improvidently granted; and (2) reversed the Appellate Court’s judgment with respect to its determination that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction of attempted larceny in the sixth degree and remanded the case with directions to affirm the judgment of the trial court, holding that the evidence supported Defendant’s conviction of attempted larceny in the sixth degree. View "State v. Adams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
There was sufficient evidence in this case to support Defendant’s conviction of risk of injury to a child because Defendant willfully or unlawfully caused or permitted a three-year-old child to be placed in a situation where the life or limb of the child was endangered. Defendant was found guilty by a jury of risk of injury to a child for endangering his child’s “life or limb” pursuant to Conn. Stat. 53-21(a)(1). The Appellate Court upheld the jury’s verdict on the ground that it was supported by sufficient evidence that Defendant had created “a risk of harm to the mental health of the child” - a separate theory of liability under section 53-21(a)(1). On appeal, both parties agreed that the Appellee Court incorrectly affirmed Defendant’s conviction on the basis of an uncharged theory of liability. The Supreme Court nonetheless affirmed, holding (1) Defendant created a situation that endangered the life or limb of his child, and he had the requisite general intent; and (2) therefore, the jury reasonably could have concluded that Defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of risk of injury to a child. View "State v. James E." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges against him, holding that the trial court incorrectly determined that an expression of an intent to cause harm to another cannot constitute a true threat unless the contemplated harm is imminent or immediate. Defendant was charged with threatening in the second degree, threatening to commit a crime of violence with intent to terrorize, and threatening to commit a crime of violence in reckless disregard of the risk of causing terror. The trial court dismissed the charges, determining that the State would be unable to demonstrate that Defendant’s statement on which the charges were based constituted a “true threat.” The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court with direction to deny the motion to dismiss, holding that a jury reasonably could find that Defendant’s statement was an unprotected “true threat” prohibited by Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-62(a). View "State v. Pelella" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court missing Petitioner’s habeas action alleging that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel at two criminal jury trials, both of which resulted in convictions and substantial prison sentences. The Commissioner of Correction moved to dismiss the action based on the terms of a stipulated judgment filed by Petitioner and the Commissioner in connection with a previous habeas action concerning the same two trials. The stipulation barred Petitioner from filing any further such actions pertaining to those trials. On appeal, Petitioner argued that his case was erroneously dismissed where he did not knowingly and voluntarily enter into the stipulated judgment. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) Petitioner did not properly raise his challenge to the enforceability of the stipulated judgment in the habeas court; and (2) the stipulated judgment was a legally sufficient ground for dismissal of the present habeas action. View "Nelson v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

by
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