Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss the murder and tampering with physical evidence charges against her, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that dismissal was not warranted.At issue was whether police officers executing a search and seizure warrant for Defendant's home invaded her attorney-client privilege to the extent the charges against her should be dismissed pursuant to State v. Lenarz, 22 A.3d 536 (Conn. 2011). On appeal, Defendant argued that the police prejudiced all further prosecution against her by examining, reading, and publishing privileged information that was in the arrest warrant application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly determined that Defendant was prejudiced by the examination and seizure of certain privileged documents but that the State demonstrated that the remedial actions that the State and trial court took cured the prejudice to Defendant. View "State v. Kosuda-Bigazzi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment convicting Defendant's criminal possession of a firearm and having a weapon in a motor vehicle, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions.On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to establish that she constructively possessed a firearm under Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-217(a) or that she knowingly had a firearm under Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-38(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the facts and inferences reasonably drawn from the facts sufficiently established Defendant's constructive possession of the firearm beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) in light of the conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's conviction under section 53a-217(a), the same conclusion can be reached to support Defendant's conviction under section 29-38(a). View "State v. Rhodes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court dismissed this petition for certification to appeal from an order of the Appellate Court affirming the order of the trial court denying Defendant's motion for bond modification, holding that three related concerns inform the Court's decision not to exercise jurisdiction over Defendant's claims.Defendant moved for modification of his $250,000 bond and an order granting his release on a promise to appear, asserting that his asthma and sleep apnea put him at a heightened risk of serious consequences should he contract COVID-19. The lower courts denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding (1) the procedural posture of this case would require the Court to exercise jurisdiction on grounds that were not raised by Defendant; (2) the record was devoid of evidence regarding the nature and degree of the risk Defendant claimed was heightened by his detention at a correctional facility; and (3) the fact that Defendant provided no information regarding the scope of the problem among other pretrial detainees was problematic. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction for carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-35(a), holding that there was sufficient evidence that the firearm Defendant was alleged to have been carrying had a barrel length of less than twelve inches.During trial, the State did not present direct, numerical evidence of the length of the firearm's barrel that Defendant was alleged to have been carrying. The State did, however, present relevant circumstantial evidence about the firearm. On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence that he carried a firearm with a barrel length of less than twelve inches. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court correctly concluded that there was sufficient evidence that the firearm had a barrel length of less than twelve inches. View "State v. Covington" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's dismissal of Petitioner's petition for a new trial brought against Respondent, the state's attorney, as time barred, holding that the Appellate Court improperly disregarded the remedial purpose of Conn. Stat. Ann. 52-593a in concluding that the successful fax transmission of process to the state marshal is not personal delivery as contemplated by the savings statute.Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to forty-five years imprisonment. Petitioner subsequently sought to file a petition for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence. Respondent claimed that the petition as time barred because Petitioner did not serve process on him until one day after the expiration of the three-year limitation period. The trial court agreed, determining that there was no proof of timely delivery of process to the state marshal for purposes of section 52-593a because the state marshal did not endorse the date of delivery, and Petitioner failed to provide support for the proposition that a fax constituted personal delivery as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Petitioner satisfied the personal delivery requirement via successfully faxing process to the state marshal for service. View "Johnson v. Preleski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the habeas court denying Petitioner's amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the Appellate Court improperly raised and decided the unpreserved issue of waiver without first providing the parties with an opportunity to be heard on that issue.Petitioner pled guilty under the Alford doctrine to one count of home invasion. Thereafter, Petitioner commenced this habeas action alleging that his trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion to discuss the home invasion charge. The habeas court denied the petition. The Appellate Court affirmed on an alternative ground, concluding that Petitioner waived his ineffective assistance claim by virtue of the entry and acceptance of his Alford plea. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that because the parties were not provided an opportunity to be heard on waiver it was improper for the Appellate Court to raise and decide that issue. View "Diaz v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress photographs and videos of suspected child pornography that the police recovered from computer equipment and other media storage seized from Defendant's residence pursuant to a search warrant, holding that the search warrant affidavit supported a finding of probable cause.On appeal, Defendant argued that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause because the issuing judge could not reasonably have inferred from descriptions in the affidavit of two photographs of nude children that the photographs were lascivious. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the totality of the circumstances described in the affidavit and the reasonable inferences drawn therefore supported a finding of probable cause to believe that a there was a substantial chance that a search of Defendant's residence would uncover evidence of possession of child pornography. The Court further declined Defendant's invitation to adopt a more demanding standard for assessing whether there is probable cause to issue a search warrant. View "State v. Sawyer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court affirming Defendant's conviction of one count of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and four counts of assault in the first degree, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the State's late disclosed expert witness to testify without first granting Defendant a reasonable continuance to obtain his own expert, and the error was harmful.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by permitting the State's expert witness on cell site location information (CSLI) to testify as to what that information revealed about the location of Defendant during the time of the crimes because the State disclosed the expert only one week before evidence started. Defendant argued in the alternative that the court abused its discretion by denying his related motion for a continuance to obtain his own CSLI expert. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court's decision to permit the State's late disclosed expert witness to testify was an abuse of discretion in the absence of affording Defendant a reasonable continuance to obtain his own expert; and (2) the error was harmful, and Defendant was entitled to a new trial. View "State v. Jackson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of assault in the first degree, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant's motions seeking public funds to pay for a DNA expert to assist in his defense and to exclude certain evidence.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court (1) abused its discretion and violated his federal and state constitutional rights when it denied his motion for funds for a DNA expert to assist in his defense, and (2) abused its discretion when it denied his motion in limine seeking to preclude certain evidence of the victim's confidence in her identification of Defendant when presented with a photographic array by the police. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) properly denied Defendant's motion for costs to pay for expenses associated with procuring the DNA expert; and (2) did not abuse it discretion in denying Defendant's motion in limine seeking to preclude evidence of the victim's post identification confidence in her identification of Defendant as her attacker. View "State v. White" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and related crimes, holding that any violation of Defendant's right to confrontation was harmless and that the trial court's third-party culpability instruction was sufficient.Defendant's convictions arose from a shooting on a crowded street in which a fifteen-year-old boy died and two individuals were seriously injured. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions, holding (1) as to Defendant's argument that the trial court erred in admitting the out-of-court statements of two witnesses identifying Defendant as the shooter, Defendant failed to preserve his hearsay objection, and even if the admission of the out-of-court identifications violated Defendant's right to confrontation, any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) the trial court's third-party culpability instruction was sufficient despite the fact that the instruction omitted certain names. View "State v. Edwards" on Justia Law