Articles Posted in Criminal 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

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In this dispute over a public records request, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the search and seizure statutes, Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-33a through 54-36p, do not satisfy the requirements set forth in Conn. Get Stat. 1-210(a), which exempts documents from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act that are “otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute….” The Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection received a request from The Hartford Courant Company and its reporter (collectively, Courant), seeking copies of documents referred to in a report prepared by the Connecticut State police on the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When the Department did not timely respond to the request, Courant filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission. The Commission concluded that the documents were public records under the Act. The trial court, however, concluded that the documents were exempt from disclosure pursuant to section 1-210(a) because they were seized pursuant to a search warrant as part of the criminal investigation of the incident. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that that records governed by the search and seizure statutes are not exempt from disclosure under the Act. View "Commissioner of Emergency Services & Public Protection v. Freedom of Information Commission" on Justia Law

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