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At issue in this case was whether a conservation restriction on private property was violated by the owner of that property and, if so, whether the remedies ordered by the trial court were proper. The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with the trial court's interpretation of the conservation restriction and its consequent finding that defendant had violated it in multiple respects, and the court saw no impropriety with respect to the portion of the trial court's judgment awarding plaintiff equitable relief. However, the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with defendant that the trial court's award of punitive damages was noncompliant with the authorizing provision, General Statutes 52-560a(d), and that its award of attorney's fees, in one respect, was improper. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Lyme Land Conservation Trust v. Platner" on Justia Law

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The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision to uphold the Commissioner's determination denying plaintiffs' request for a refund of estate taxes paid by the estate of the decedent. The court held that the trial court properly rendered summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner because defendant properly included the value of the assets contained within the qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) marital deduction trusts in the decedent's gross estate and levied the estate tax thereupon in accordance with General Statutes 12-391 without violating due process. View "Estate of Brooks v. Commissioner of Revenue Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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Principally at issue in this case was defense counsel's obligation to investigate and present mitigating evidence that could reduce a defendant's culpability when the defendant has directed counsel not to present such evidence and has refused to aid in the presentation of such evidence. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that a client's resolute, unambiguous instruction not to present mitigating evidence, if made knowingly and voluntarily, can preclude a showing of prejudice from counsel's failure to investigate mitigating evidence. The court held, largely for the reasons set forth by the habeas court, that this standard was met in the present case. Furthermore, the habeas court properly concluded that petitioner had not established a basis for relief on any of his claims challenging his judgment of conviction, and, in light of intervening changes in the law, petitioner's claims challenging the penalty phase and resulting sentence of death have been rendered moot. View "Breton v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-1j(a) does not require the trial court to inquire directly of a defendant as to whether he or she has spoken with counsel about the possible immigration consequences of pleading guilty before the court accepts the defendant’s guilty plea. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, which denied Defendant’s motion to vacate his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit larceny in the third degree on the ground that the trial court failed to ask Defendant whether he had spoken with counsel about the possible immigration consequences of pleading guilty before accepting the plea offer. Because Defendant expressly acknowledged that he understood those consequences, the trial court substantially complied with section 54-1j. View "State v. Lima" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was found guilty in 2002 of the 1975 murder of his neighbor. The habeas court granted Petitioner’s petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus, concluding that Petitioner’s criminal trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective on three grounds. The Supreme Court reversed the habeas court’s judgment, holding (1) the habeas court erred in concluding that Petitioner’s trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective; (2) Petitioner’s alternative grounds for affirming the habeas court’s judgment were unavailing; and (3) the habeas court did not err in rejecting Petitioner’s claim that counsel had a conflict of interest in representing him. Remanded. View "Skakel v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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After the bankruptcy court granted Plaintiff a discharge of her debts, Plaintiff filed this action against the named defendants, alleging misuse of funds of a trust established by her mother. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to substitute the bankruptcy trustee as the proper plaintiff. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Plaintiff failed to show that she had brought the action in her own name due to a mistake. The court then dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. While Plaintiff’s appeal was pending, the bankruptcy court granted the bankruptcy trustee’s motion to abandon the underlying cause of action. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal as moot, holding that because the bankruptcy trustee abandoned the underlying action and Plaintiff no longer was seeking to substitute the trustee as party plaintiff, resolution of this claim would afford Plaintiff no practical relief. View "Gladstein v. Goldfield" on Justia Law

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In this summary process action, the trial court relied on the “spirit” of certain federal disability laws in support of an equitable defense to the eviction of Defendant, a tenant who kept an “emotional support dog” in her federally subsidized rental apartment despite a clause restricting pets that was included in her lease. Plaintiff appealed from the trial court’s judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) this appeal was not rendered moot when Plaintiff commenced an ancillary summary process action against Defendant, the filing of which had the effect of affirmatively reinstating Defendant’s tenancy; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by relying on the spirit of the federal regulations and by applying the doctrine of equitable nonforfeiture to support its equitable decision in favor of Defendant. View "Presidential Village, LLC v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought an action against a hospital and one of its employees for personal injuries allegedly sustained as a result of medical malpractice. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the hospital. The trial court ultimately awarded the hospital $5965 in expert fees and other costs. Five months later, the hospital filed a motion to hold Plaintiff in contempt of court, arguing that the award of costs was a court order and thus amenable to contempt and that Plaintiff had not paid any of the award costs. The court denied the hospital’s motion for contempt, concluding that, as a matter of law, it lacked the inherent authority to coerce compliance with an award of costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under ordinary circumstances such as those in this case, the court’s inherent contempt power is not an appropriate means of enforcing an award of costs or other monetary judgment. View "Pease v. Charlotte Hungerford Hospital" on Justia Law

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Defendant confessed to committing a robbery and assault at a grocery store in a signed, sworn statement he made to the police. Defendant moved to suppress his statements to the police. The trial court denied the motion. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of multiple counts relating to the robbery of the grocery store. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the detectives failed to provide him with Miranda warnings while he was in custody and prior to asking him about the robbery. Defendant claimed that the initial questioning and the subsequent questioning after he was provided with a Miranda warning was a single, continuous interrogation that rendered the Miranda warning ineffective. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly denied the motion to suppress because, under the facts of this case, there was a sufficient separation between the initial questioning and the subsequent interrogation to render the Miranda warnings effective. View "State v. Donald" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to make a false statement in the second degree and conspiracy to fabricate physical evidence, arising from a single unlawful agreement. The Appellate Court remanded the case to the trial court with direction to merge the conspiracy to make a false statement in the second degree conviction into the conspiracy to fabricate physical evidence conviction and to resentence Defendant, concluding that Defendant’s conviction of both conspiracy counts on the basis of a single unlawful agreement violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the Appellate Court properly applied binding precedent and remanded Defendant’s case with direction to merge the two conspiracy convictions; but (2) in light of the Court’s subsequent decisions, Defendant is entitled to have his conviction of conspiracy to make a false statement in the second degree vacated. Remanded. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law