Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court upholding that decision of the trial court denying Petitioner’s petition for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence. In his petition, Petitioner claimed that new DNA testing demonstrated that he did not commit the murder for which he was convicted. The lower courts ruled that Petitioner was not entitled to relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Court should have engaged in a de novo review under the specific circumstances of this case; but (2) applying a de novo standard of review, Petitioner was not entitled to a new trial. View "Jones v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Defendant was charged with violating Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-189a(a)(1), which prohibits a person from, knowingly and with malice, video recording another person under certain circumstances. At issue was the meaning of the element requiring that the victim be “not in plain view” when she is recorded. Specifically at issue was to whose plain view the statute refers. The Supreme Court held (1) the statute plausibly could refer to either the plain view of the defendant or the general public, rendering the statute ambiguous; and (2) consulting extra textual sources, the “not in plain view” element refers to the general public. The Supreme Court thus reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court, which concluded that the statutory language unambiguously referred to the plain view of the person making the recording, not the public. View "State v. Panek" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Appellate Court dismissed as moot Petitioner’s appeal from the judgment of the habeas court, which denied his amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his conviction of assault in the second degree. The Appellate Court concluded that the habeas appeal was rendered moot by Petitioner’s subsequent deportation to Haiti where any relief provided in relation to Petitioner’s assault conviction would have no effect on his ability to lawfully reenter the United States or to become a citizen. The court specifically ruled that a prior unchallenged conviction of threatening in the second degree in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-62(a), which the court concluded constituted a crime of moral turpitude under the Immigration and Nationality Act, would remain as an impediment to Petitioner’s reentry. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 53a-62(a) is a divisible statute because it lists potential offense elements in the alternative, not all of which constitute crimes of moral turpitude as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(13)(C)(v) of the Act; and (2) therefore, the Appellate Court improperly determined that Petitioner’s threatening conviction constituted a crime of moral turpitude that rendered moot his habeas appeal challenging his assault conviction. View "St. Juste v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of capital felony, two counts of murder, and other crimes. Defendant was sentenced to death plus forty-five years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant raised thirty-five claims, including twenty-one claims pertaining to the penalty phase of his trial. After Defendant had been sentenced to death, the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty. See State v. Santiago, 122 A.3d 1 (Conn. 2015). The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction, holding (1) Defendant’s claims challenging the penalty phase were not yet ripe, and therefore, the court declined to resolve whether they had been rendered moot by Santiago; and (2) Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his remaining claims. View "State v. Campbell" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of felony murder, home invasion, and robbery in the first degree, among other crimes. The Supreme Court held that the Appellate Court improperly concluded that the trial court (1) violated Defendant’s constitutional right to present a defense by conditioning its ruling that certain out-of-court statements were inadmissible under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 68 (2004), on Defendant not presenting evidence regarding the statements; and (2) abused its discretion by admitting testimony from a police detective indicating that he had observed a purported bite mark on Defendant’s accomplice’s hand. Lastly, any claimed impropriety with respect to the admission testimony by a police detective who narrated the presentation of a bus surveillance video was harmless error. View "State v. Holley" on Justia Law

by
The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed defendant's murder conviction and held that defendant expressly waived his claim that the trial court incorrectly failed to strike a witness's improper testimony. In this case, defendant had approved of the trial court's proposed remedy by expressing satisfaction with the trial court's plan to use an instruction, by declining to request action by the trial court, and by ultimately approving of the trial court's proposed instruction. The court also held that defendant's claim that the trial court improperly permitted the victim's mother to testify that she had heard information relating defendant to the victim's disappearance on the ground that it constituted inadmissible hearsay was unpreserved and unreviewable. View "State v. Miranda" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
At issue was whether the Appellate Court correctly concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for breach of the peace and whether the Appellate Court correctly concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a judgment against Defendant of attempted larceny in the sixth degree. The Supreme Court (1) dismissed Defendant’s appeal as to the first issue on the ground that certification was improvidently granted; and (2) reversed the Appellate Court’s judgment with respect to its determination that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction of attempted larceny in the sixth degree and remanded the case with directions to affirm the judgment of the trial court, holding that the evidence supported Defendant’s conviction of attempted larceny in the sixth degree. View "State v. Adams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
There was sufficient evidence in this case to support Defendant’s conviction of risk of injury to a child because Defendant willfully or unlawfully caused or permitted a three-year-old child to be placed in a situation where the life or limb of the child was endangered. Defendant was found guilty by a jury of risk of injury to a child for endangering his child’s “life or limb” pursuant to Conn. Stat. 53-21(a)(1). The Appellate Court upheld the jury’s verdict on the ground that it was supported by sufficient evidence that Defendant had created “a risk of harm to the mental health of the child” - a separate theory of liability under section 53-21(a)(1). On appeal, both parties agreed that the Appellee Court incorrectly affirmed Defendant’s conviction on the basis of an uncharged theory of liability. The Supreme Court nonetheless affirmed, holding (1) Defendant created a situation that endangered the life or limb of his child, and he had the requisite general intent; and (2) therefore, the jury reasonably could have concluded that Defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of risk of injury to a child. View "State v. James E." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The trial court correctly determined that pretrial disposition conferences, when they are conducted in chambers and off the record, do not constitute “court proceedings the accused has the right to attend” within the meaning of amendment 29(b)(5) of the Connecticut Constitution. Plaintiff in error brought this writ of error claiming that the trial court improperly precluded him from attending plea negotiations and other discussions during in-chambers, pretrial disposition conferences in the criminal prosecution of Kyle Damato-Kushel. Plaintiff in error, the alleged victim, argued that the trial court’s ruling barring his attendance at the pretrial disposition conferences involving the court, the prosecutor, and defense counsel violated his rights under article first, section eight of the Connecticut Constitution, as amended by articles seventeen and twenty-nine of the amendments. The Supreme Court dismissed the writ of error, holding that neither the victim nor his authorized representative has a right to attend such conferences. View "State v. Damato-Kushel" on Justia Law

by
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