Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Defendant’s probation sentence had not expired at the time the trial court found that Defendant had violated his probation conditions and revoked his probation even though the trial court decided the violation charge after Defendant’s probation sentence was originally set to expire. Therefore, the trial court had jurisdiction to decide the violation charge. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court, which affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding that Defendant’s probation sentence had not expired when the trial court decided the probation violation charge because, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-31(b), the running of Defendant’s sentence had been interrupted while the violation charge was pending. View "State v. Kelley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The allegations in an inmate’s habeas corpus petition, which claimed that Petitioner was incorrectly classified as a sex offender and that he suffered negative consequences as a result of that erroneous classification, sufficiently alleged a cognizable liberty interest invoke the jurisdiction of the habeas court. The habeas court concluded otherwise and dismissed the petition on the basis that Petitioner failed to allege a protected liberty interest. The Appellate Court reversed, determining that Petitioner’s allegations established a protected liberty interest under the stigma plus test applied by the federal courts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the facts of this case, the stigma plus test is the best test; and (2) Petitioner’s allegations were sufficient to invoke the jurisdiction of the habeas court. View "Anthony A. v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant Justin Skipwith was charged with manslaughter in the second degree with a motor vehicle after he struck and killed Brianna Washington, the daughter of the plaintiff in error, Tabatha Cornell. Although Cornell notified the defendant in error, the state’s attorney for the judicial district of Waterbury, that she was invoking her constitutional rights as a victim of the crime, she was not afforded an opportunity to object to the plea agreement between Skipwith and the State or to make a statement at Skipwith’s sentencing hearing. Cornell filed a motion to vacate the sentence. The trial court dismissed the motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Cornell then filed a writ of error arguing that the trial court erred in dismissing her motion to vacate Skipwith’s sentence. The appellate court dismissed the writ of error, concluding that the trial court did not err. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding that the writ of error sought a form of relief that was barred by the victim’s rights amendment. View "State v. Skipwith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this criminal case, the trial court acted within its discretion in admitting uncharged sexual misconduct that occurred twelve years prior to the charged conduct. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree and two counts of risk of injury to a child. The appellate court affirmed the judgment of conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the uncharged sexual misconduct evidence was too remote and insufficiently similar to the charged offenses, and therefore, the trial court abused its discretion in admitting it. Defendant relied on State v. De Jesus, 953 A.2d 45 (Conn. 2008) to make his argument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the twelve year old uncharged sexual misconduct evidence because it satisfied the requirements of DeJesus. View "State v. Acosta" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Petitioner alleging that a 2013 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125a repealing a provision advancing certain inmates’ parole eligibility dates by earned risk reduction credit violated the ex post facto clause of the federal constitution. The habeas court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that Petitioner suffered no increase in punishment that would constitute a violation of the ex post facto clause. The Supreme Court affirmed for the reasons set forth in Perez v. Commissioner of Correction, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2017), holding that the habeas court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Petitioner’s ex post facto claim. View "James E. v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law