Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant’s conviction of four counts of sexual assault in the second degree and three counts of risk of injury to a child, holding that the Appellate Court did not err in concluding that Defendant had waived any claim regarding his presence at sidebar conferences. Throughout the trial, both the defense and the state utilized sidebar conferences to make any detailed arguments on evidentiary objections. On appeal, Defendant argued that he had a right to be present at the sidebar conferences. The Appellate Court affirmed, concluding that Defendant had waived any claim related to his presence at the sidebar conferences by agreeing to the procedure proposed by the trial court for handling arguments on evidentiary objections. The Supreme Court affirmed, noting that it would serve no purpose to repeat the discussion contained in the Appellate Court’s decision. View "State v. Tierinni" on Justia Law

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The trial court improperly determined that evidence of the victim’s convictions for crimes of violence is inadmissible as a matter of law, but the error was harmless. Defendant was charged with assault in the second degree by means of a dangerous instrument. Prior to trial, the State filed motion in limine requesting that the trial court preclude evidence of the victim’s criminal convictions, which the State anticipated Defendant would attempt to submit to support his claim of self-defense. The trial court granted the motion, concluding that evidence of the convictions would not be admissible as a matter of law because they occurred subsequent to the charged conduct. The jury rejected Defendant’s claim of self-defense and found Defendant guilty as charged. The Appellate Court affirmed, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding evidence of the victim’s subsequent convictions but that the error was harmless. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not meet his burden to prove that the exclusion of evidence of the victim’s subsequent convictions was harmful error. View "State v. Jordan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this habeas corpus proceeding, the Supreme Court held that the habeas court properly concluded that Petitioner was entitled to a new trial because counsel in his murder case rendered ineffective assistance. On appeal by the Commissioner of Correction from the habeas court’s decision, the Supreme Court held that the habeas court properly found (1) counsel’s failure to obtain readily available evidence that he should have known was potentially critical to Petitioner’s alibi defense was constitutionally inexcusable; and (2) counsel’s inadequate performance resulted in prejudice to Petitioner sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of Petitioner’s criminal trial. View "Skakel v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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A court may look to the evidence presented at trial when determining if a defendant’s conviction violated the constitution prohibition against double jeopardy. Defendant appealed his convictions of assault of public safety personnel and interfering with an officer, arguing that the two convictions constituted a double jeopardy violation. To resolve Defendant’s claim, the Appellate Court reviewed evidence presented at trial and concluded that the two crimes did not stem from the same conduct. Consequently, the Appellate Court concluded that Defendant did not satisfy the requirements to establish a double jeopardy violation in the context of a single trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Court properly reviewed the evidence to determine that the offenses in question did not arise from the same act or transaction; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s conviction did not violate double jeopardy. View "State v. Porter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal from the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the habeas court, which was rendered on remand following the Appellate Court’s previous decision denying Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that certification was improvidently granted. The Court, however, made two additional observations about the case. First, the Court deferred to the Appellate Court’s construction of its own ambiguous judgment allowing the admission of new evidence with respect to whether counsel’s deficient performance was prejudicial as a remand for a new trial requiring a new habeas judge to try the case under Conn. Gen. Laws 51-183c; and (2) should additional findings be necessary from an existing record in order to enable the expeditious resolution of a case, the reviewing court may retain jurisdiction over the appeal by means of a rescript that does not disturb the underlying judgment pending the remand and subsequent appellate proceedings. View "Barlow v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Any error in the trial court’s acceptance of Defendant’s waiver of the right to counsel following the court’s canvass was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to a new trial. Defendant was charged with crimes in connection with a robbery. Before trial, Defendant moved to discharge his appointed public defender and to represent himself. After canvassing Defendant about his decision, the trial court granted the motion. About four months later, the trial court canvassed Defendant a second time regarding his decision to represent himself. Defendant responded affirmatively. After the ensuing trial, Defendant was found guilty of certain crimes stemming from the robbery. On appeal, Defendant argued that the first canvass was inadequate, and therefore, his initial waiver of the right to counsel was not knowing and voluntary. The Appellate Court concluded that the first canvass was deficient but that the error was harmless inasmuch as Defendant was canvassed a second time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that any inadequacy in the first canvass was harmless as a result of the second, adequate canvass. View "State v. Cushard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court upholding that decision of the trial court denying Petitioner’s petition for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence. In his petition, Petitioner claimed that new DNA testing demonstrated that he did not commit the murder for which he was convicted. The lower courts ruled that Petitioner was not entitled to relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Court should have engaged in a de novo review under the specific circumstances of this case; but (2) applying a de novo standard of review, Petitioner was not entitled to a new trial. View "Jones v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was charged with violating Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-189a(a)(1), which prohibits a person from, knowingly and with malice, video recording another person under certain circumstances. At issue was the meaning of the element requiring that the victim be “not in plain view” when she is recorded. Specifically at issue was to whose plain view the statute refers. The Supreme Court held (1) the statute plausibly could refer to either the plain view of the defendant or the general public, rendering the statute ambiguous; and (2) consulting extra textual sources, the “not in plain view” element refers to the general public. The Supreme Court thus reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court, which concluded that the statutory language unambiguously referred to the plain view of the person making the recording, not the public. View "State v. Panek" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Appellate Court dismissed as moot Petitioner’s appeal from the judgment of the habeas court, which denied his amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his conviction of assault in the second degree. The Appellate Court concluded that the habeas appeal was rendered moot by Petitioner’s subsequent deportation to Haiti where any relief provided in relation to Petitioner’s assault conviction would have no effect on his ability to lawfully reenter the United States or to become a citizen. The court specifically ruled that a prior unchallenged conviction of threatening in the second degree in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-62(a), which the court concluded constituted a crime of moral turpitude under the Immigration and Nationality Act, would remain as an impediment to Petitioner’s reentry. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 53a-62(a) is a divisible statute because it lists potential offense elements in the alternative, not all of which constitute crimes of moral turpitude as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(13)(C)(v) of the Act; and (2) therefore, the Appellate Court improperly determined that Petitioner’s threatening conviction constituted a crime of moral turpitude that rendered moot his habeas appeal challenging his assault conviction. View "St. Juste v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of capital felony, two counts of murder, and other crimes. Defendant was sentenced to death plus forty-five years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant raised thirty-five claims, including twenty-one claims pertaining to the penalty phase of his trial. After Defendant had been sentenced to death, the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty. See State v. Santiago, 122 A.3d 1 (Conn. 2015). The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction, holding (1) Defendant’s claims challenging the penalty phase were not yet ripe, and therefore, the court declined to resolve whether they had been rendered moot by Santiago; and (2) Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his remaining claims. View "State v. Campbell" on Justia Law