Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part Defendant's conviction for one count of arson in the first degree, eight counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree, and four counts of risk of injury to a child, holding that the trial court committed reversible error by applying incorrect and convincing Defendant under a provision he was not formally charged with violating.On appeal, Defendant raised three claims of error relating to his conviction on the counts alleging risk of injury to a child. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction in part, holding (1) this Court's reading of State v. Schriver, 542 A.2d 686 (Conn. 1988), and its progeny leads it to reject Defendant's first two claims on this record; and (2) the trial court committed reversible error by finding Defendant guilty of risk of injury to a child based on its application of the elements of the situation prong rather than of the act prong, as originally charged. View "State v. Ares" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of intentional manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm, criminal possession of a pistol or revolver, and carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, holding that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on combat by agreement, but the error was harmless.On appeal, Defendant raised four allegations of error, including prosecutorial misconduct and error in the denial of his motion for a new trial in light of his contention that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the jury's deliberations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on combat by agreement, but the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) Defendant's remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "State v. Washington" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of sexual assault in the first degree and other crimes, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting into evidence the victim's out-of-court statements under the tender years exception to the hearsay rule.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain out-of-court statements made by the victim, in admitting a transcript of a recorded but modified conversation between the victim and the victim's mother, and in denying his request for a continuance during trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the victim's out-of-court statements were properly admitted; (2) Defendant failed to preserve his second argument on appeal; and (3) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's request for a continuance. View "State v. Ortega" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of two counts each of sexual assault in the first degree and unlawful restraint in the first degree and one count of assault in the second degree, holding that Defendant's claims on appeal failed.On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the trial court violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court violated Defendant's Sixth Amendment rights under State v. Walker, 212 A.3d 1244 (Conn. 2019), by admitting certain testimony, but the violation was harmless under State v. Golding, 567 A.2d 832 (Conn. 1989); (2) Defendant failed to prove a violation of his constitutional right to due process; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying either Defendant's supplemental motion for a new trial or his motion for a new trial. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming Defendant's conviction of three counts of custodial interference in the second degree, holding that Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-98(a)(3) is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to Defendant and that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction.On appeal, Defendant argued that section 53a-98(a)(3) is unconstitutionally vague in its application to her and that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction. The appellate court rejected both claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court correctly concluded that section 53a-98(a)(3) was not unconstitutionally vague in its application to her and that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's conviction of three counts of custodial interference in the second degree. View "State v. Lori T." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court dismissing Petitioner's appeal from the judgment of the superior court dismissing Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Practice Book section 23-29 requires the habeas court to provide prior notice of the court’s intention to dismiss, on its own motion, a petition that it deems legally deficient and an opportunity to be heard on the papers by filing a written response.Acting on its own motion and without prior notice, the habeas court dismissed Petitioner's habeas petition as repetitious under section 23-29(3). The appellate court dismissed Petitioner's appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a dismissal under section 23-29, which occurs after the writ has issued and the action has commenced, requires some procedural safeguards, including prior notice and an opportunity to submit a written response, but not a full hearing; and (2) on remand, if the writ is issued, and the habeas court again dismisses Petitioner's habeas petition on its own motion pursuant to section 23-29, it must provider Petitioner with prior notice and an opportunity to submit a brief or written response to the proposed basis for dismissal. View "Brown v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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In this companion case to Brown v. Commissioner of Correction, __ A.3d __ (2022), which the Court also decided today, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the habeas court dismissing Appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Practice Book 23-29 sua sponte and without prior notice, holding that remand was required.Petitioner filed a third petition for a writ of habeas corpus asserting four claims. The habeas court, sua sponte and without prior notice, dismissed the petition pursuant to Practice Book 23-29. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the habeas court did not have the benefit of the Court's decision in Gilchrist v. Commissioner of Correction, 223 A.3d 368 (Conn. 2020), remand was required for the habeas court to first determine whether any grounds exist for it to decline to issue the writ pursuant to Practice Book 23-24. View "Boria v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of one count each of felony murder, conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree, and carrying a pistol without a permit, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) under the circumstances of the case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted a dual inculpatory statement under section 8-6(4) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence; (2) the statement at issue was non-testimonial, and its admission at trial did not violate Defendant's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation; (3) certain statements made by the prosecutor did not violate Defendant's right to confrontation under the state Constitution; and (4) Defendant was not entitled to relief on his second claim of impropriety. View "State v. Graham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of home invasion, burglary, and other crimes, holding that there was no error on the part of the trial court and that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's convictions.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress his written statement to the police after finding that Defendant's statement was voluntary and reliable; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting into evidence the entirety of the cooperation agreement between the state and Defendant's accomplice regarding portions of the accomplice's obligation to testify truthfully; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to find Defendant guilty of attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, home invasion predicated on attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, home invasion predicated on burglary in the first degree, and conspiracy to commit home invasion. View "State v. Flores" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment the trial court convicting Defendant of murder, holding that a specific unanimity instruction was not required in this case.In affirming Defendant's conviction, the appellate court read this Court's precedents to mean that, although a jury must unanimously reject a self-defense claim before it may find a defendant guilty, there is no requirement that jurors agree on which specific factor of Connecticut's four-factor test for self-defense the state has disprove beyond a reasonable doubt. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a specific unanimity instruction was not required in this case; and (2) there was no reasonable possibility that Defendant's conviction resulted from the jurors' misunderstanding of the self-defense instruction, which the trial court reiterated several times and in various ways. View "State v. Mekoshvili" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law