Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction, holding that Defendant's statements during interrogation did not meet the standard set forth in Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 459-60 (1994), so as to require suppression but that a more protective prophylactic rule set forth in this opinion is required under the Connecticut constitution to adequately safeguard the right against self-incrimination. Defendant was convicted of three counts of risk of injury to a child. On appeal, Defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress certain statements he made during interrogation, arguing that the statements had been elicited after he invoked his right to have counsel present. The Appellate Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's references to counsel would not have been understood by a reasonable police officer as an expression of a present desire to consult with counsel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant's statements during the interrogation did not constitute an invocation of his right to counsel under Davis; (2) however, the state Constitution requires that police officers clarify an ambiguous request for counsel before they can continue the interrogation; and (3) because no such clarification was elicited in this case, and the failure to do so was harmful, Defendant was entitled to a new trial. View "State v. Purcell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court granting Defendant's motions to suppress all cell site location information (CSLI) obtained by the State as a result of three ex parte orders that had been granted pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-47aa, holding that because the State obtained did not obtain Defendant's historical CSLI based on a warrant supported by reasonable cause, the records were obtained in violation of Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. The State obtained the CSLI at issue solely on the basis of a reasonable and articulable suspicion. The State conceded that it obtained the CSLI in violation of section 54-47aa. The trial court determined that suppression of both the historical and the prospective CSLI was the appropriate remedy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly granted Defendant's motions to suppress the CSLI records because the records were obtained illegally and because suppression was the appropriate remedy as to the illegally obtained records; and (2) the trial court properly determined that suppression of those records also required that Defendant's statement and potential testimony be suppressed. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence discovered by the police during the forcible detention of Defendant, holding that Defendant's detention violated his Fourth Amendment rights under Navarette v. California, 572 U.S. 393 (2014). Defendant was detained pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) on the basis of an anonymous telephone tip regarding "a young man that has a handgun." After Defendant was detained, the police saw him drop an object in a garbage can. A subsequent search revealed that the object was a handgun. Defendant was charged with criminal possession of a pistol and carrying a pistol without a permit. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that his detention was unconstitutional because the anonymous tip did not give rise to a reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in, or was about to be engaged in, criminal activity. Therefore, Defendant argued that the handgun was tainted as the result of his unlawful seizure. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the anonymous telephone call did not give rise to a reasonable suspicion that Defendant was in possession of a handgun, justifying an investigative Terry stop. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court concluding that the improper exclusion of P's testimony during the underlying criminal proceedings was not harmless, holding that the testimony was necessary for the jury to assess the complainant's credibility, and therefore, the exclusion of P's testimony was not harmless. Defendant was charged with sexual assault in the second degree and two counts of risk of injury to a child. The trial court precluded Defendant from calling P, the complainant's longtime boyfriend, as a witness regarding his observations of certain aspects of the complainant's behavior that the State's expert witness had testified were commonly exhibited by child victims of sexual assault. The Appellate Court reversed, holding that P's testimony was improperly excluded because it was relevant to the issue of whether the complainant had exhibited behaviors associated with some sexual assault victims, which had a clear and direct bearing on the central issue in this case - whether the complainant had been sexually assaulted by Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the improper exclusion of P's testimony was not harmless. View "State v. Fernando V." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant’s judgment of conviction, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for attempt to commit murder under the substantial step provision of Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-49(a)(2) because the determination of what constitutes a substantial step focuses on what the actor has already done rather than on what the actor has left to do to complete the substantive crime. The Appellate Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to sustain Defendant’s conviction of attempted murder after construing section 53a-49(a)(2) to require the substantial step inquiry to focus on what the actor has already done rather than what remains to be done. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was ample evidence from which a jury could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant took a substantial step to murder the intended victim. View "State v. Daniel B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to correct on illegal sentence, holding that the Appellate Court’s thorough and well reasoned opinion fully addressed Defendant’s question certified to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted Defendant’s petition for certification to appeal, limited to the question of whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that Defendant’s sentence was not illegal, did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause, and did not run contrary to legislative intent. The Supreme Court adopted the Appellate Court’s opinion as the proper statement of the issues and the applicable law concerning those issues and affirmed. View "State v. Henderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the habeas court denying Petitioner’s habeas petition, holding that the State did not violate the due process of Petitioner by not disclosing an alleged agreement between the State and a testifying accomplice in Petitioner’s underlying criminal case and by failing to correct the accomplice’s allegedly false testimony that no such agreement existed. On appeal, Petitioner asked the Supreme Court to conclude, contrary to the determination of the lower courts, that the State had an agreement with the accomplice that it had not disclosed in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and that the nondisclosure of this agreement was material. The Supreme Court affirmed on the alternative basis that, even assuming that the State had no undisclosed deal with the accomplice, there was no reasonable likelihood that disclosure of the agreement would have affected the judgment of the jury. Therefore, the lack of any disclosure was immaterial under Brady and there was no due process violation. View "Marquez v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the appellate court reversing in part the judgment of the habeas court granting in part Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus on the ground that Petitioner’s defense counsel had provided ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that Petitioner was not prejudiced by counsel's strategy. Petitioner was convicted of murder after a second trial. The Supreme Court affirmed. Thereafter, Petitioner brought his habeas petition, claiming that his defense counsel had provided ineffective assistance by failing to adequately prepare and present an alibi defense and by failing to present a third-party culpability defense. The appellate court concluded (1) it was reasonable trial strategy not to present an alibi defense; (2) Petitioner’s claim of inadequate investigation of the alibis defense was unpreserved; and (3) Petitioner was not prejudiced by counsel’s failure to present a third-party culpability defense. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) it was not deficient performance for defense counsel not to present an alibi defense; and (2) it was not deficient performance of prejudicial for defense counsel not to present a third-party culpability defense. View "Johnson v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the habeas court rejecting Petitioner’s claim that a 2013 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125a, as applied retroactively to him, violated the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution, holding that the ex post facto clause barred the Commissioner of Correction from applying the 2013 amendment retroactively to Petitioner. The amendment at issue eliminated risk reduction credit awarded pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 18-93e from the calculation of a violent offender’s initial parole eligibility date. Petitioner argued argued that, under the version of section 54-125a in effect when he committed his offenses, he was entitled to have any such credit that he had earned applied to advance his initial parole eligibility date. The habeas court concluded that Petitioner failed to establish an ex post facto violation. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the 2013 amendment to section 54-125a, as applied to Petitioner, violated the ex post facto clause. View "Garner v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the habeas court dismissing Petitioner’s petition for habeas corpus, holding that the ex post facto clause barred the Commissioner of Correction from applying a 2013 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125a to Petitioner. The amendment at issue eliminated risk reduction credit awarded pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 18-93e from the calculation of a violent offender’s initial parole eligibility date, thus requiring the offender to complete eighty-five percent of his sentence before becoming eligible from parole. Petitioner argued that he was statutorily entitled to earlier parole consideration when he committed the crimes for which he was incarcerated. The habeas court concluded that Petitioner failed to establish an ex post facto violation. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the 2013 amendment to section 54-125a(b)(2), as applied to Petitioner, violated the ex post facto clause. View "Breton v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law