Articles 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

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the Defendant's conviction of murder following his guilty plea entered under the Alford doctrine, holding that the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea without conducting an evidentiary hearing and that no hearing was required on Defendant’s request for new counsel. After Defendant pled guilty under the Alford doctrine Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and requested new counsel. The trial court denied Defendant’s requests. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to conduct an evidentiary hearing on Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea and in failing to inquire into Defendant’s complaints about counsel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s request for new counsel without a hearing, and the Appellate Court erred in concluding that such a hearing was required; and (2) no hearing was required in response to Defendant’s request for new counsel. View "State v. Simpson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court denying Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the habeas court did not err in determining that the State had not violated Petitioner’s due process rights and that the habeas court did not abuse its discretion by denying Petitioner’s request for a capias. Petitioner was convicted of several crimes connected with a shooting. Petitioner later filed a second petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging, among other things, that the State violated his due process rights during trial by failing to correct false testimony given by one of the State’s key witnesses and by failing to disclose evidence favorable to Petitioner. After a trial, the habeas court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the key witness’s testimony was not substantially misleading; (2) there was no Brady violation in this case; and (3) the habeas court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Petitioner’s request to issue a capias for the key witness’s arrest. View "Greene v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this companion case to State v. Evans, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2018), which was also decided today, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence and declined Defendant’s invitation to overrule State v. Ray, 699 A.2d 148 (Conn. 2009), in which the Supreme Court interpreted Conn. Gen. Stat. 21a-278(b) to render drug dependency an affirmative defense to be proven by the defendant. After Defendant was convicted and sentenced, he filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, claiming that his sentence had been imposed in violation of Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013). The trial court denied Defendant’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed after adopting the reasoning and conclusions of Evans, holding that this Court’s examination of the issues in Evans thoroughly resolved the claims in this instant appeal. View "State v. Allan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held that its decision in State v. Ray, 966 A.2d 148 (Conn. 2009), remained good law in light of the subsequent decision of the United States Supreme Court in Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013) and the legislature’s recent amendment of Conn. Gen. Stat. 21a-278(b). On appeal from the trial court’s judgment denying his motion to correct an illegal sentence, Defendant argued that the Supreme Court should overruled its interpretation of section 21a-278(b) in Ray. The Supreme Court disagreed with the merits of Defendant’s claims and affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding (1) Ray remains good law in the wake of Alleyne; (2) recent amendments did not change this Court’s long-standing interpretation of section 21a-278(b) making drug dependency an affirmative defense that, if proven, reduces a defendant’s potential sentence; (3) construing drug dependency as an affirmative defense under section 21a-278(b) does not violate separation of powers; and (4) accordingly, the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence. View "State v. Evans" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this habeas proceeding, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court holding that defense counsel’s delay in presenting to Petitioner a favorable plea offer from the prosecutor during trial amounted to deficient performance pursuant to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Petitioner was convicted of felony murder. Petitioner sought a writ of habeas corpus claiming that her trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance when he delayed presenting to her a favorable plea offer, an offer that the prosecutor later withdrew before it could be accepted. The habeas court agreed and concluded that Petitioner was prejudiced by counsel’s deficient performance. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, the habeas court and Appellate Court properly determined that counsel’s delay in conveying the plea offer to Petitioner amounted to deficient performance. View "Helmedach v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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At issue was the degree to which Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-470 constrains the discretion of the habeas court as to when it may act on the Commissioner of Correction’s motion for an order to show good cause why a habeas petition should be permitted to proceed when a petitioner has delayed filing the petition. In this case, the Commissioner filed a motion requesting the habeas court to order Petitioner to show cause why his untimely filed petition should be permitted to proceed. The court interpreted section 52-470 to deprive it of discretion to act on the motion prior to the close of all proceedings and thus took no action on the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 52-470(e) applied in this case and did not limit the discretion of the habeas court as to when it may act on a motion for an order to show cause why an untimely petition should be permitted to proceed; and (2) therefore, the habeas court erred in determining that it lacked discretion to act on the Commissioner’s order to show cause because the pleadings were not yet closed. View "Kelsey v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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At issue in this divorce case was whether a property award based on a criminal conviction that was later reversed must also be reversed. Wife sought dissolution of her marriage to Husband after Husband allegedly assaulted her. While the dissolution action was pending, Husband was convicted of criminal offenses stemming from the alleged assault. While Husband’s appeal from the criminal conviction was pending, the dissolution trial began. During the trial, the court allowed Wife to present evidence of the criminal conviction. Based solely on the evidence of that conviction, the court ruled that Husband was exclusively responsible for the marital breakdown and entered a property division award heavily favoring Wife. Thereafter, the Appellate Court reversed the judgment of conviction in the criminal case. The Supreme Court held (1) the reversal of Husband’s criminal conviction deprived that judgment of any preclusive effect it may have had in the dissolution action; and (2) the property division award, which was premised exclusively on the fact of Defendant’s conviction, must also be reversed. View "Shirley P. v. Norman P." on Justia Law