Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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A court may look to the evidence presented at trial when determining if a defendant’s conviction violated the constitution prohibition against double jeopardy. Defendant appealed his convictions of assault of public safety personnel and interfering with an officer, arguing that the two convictions constituted a double jeopardy violation. To resolve Defendant’s claim, the Appellate Court reviewed evidence presented at trial and concluded that the two crimes did not stem from the same conduct. Consequently, the Appellate Court concluded that Defendant did not satisfy the requirements to establish a double jeopardy violation in the context of a single trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Appellate Court properly reviewed the evidence to determine that the offenses in question did not arise from the same act or transaction; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s conviction did not violate double jeopardy. View "State v. Porter" on Justia Law

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Any error in the trial court’s acceptance of Defendant’s waiver of the right to counsel following the court’s canvass was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to a new trial. Defendant was charged with crimes in connection with a robbery. Before trial, Defendant moved to discharge his appointed public defender and to represent himself. After canvassing Defendant about his decision, the trial court granted the motion. About four months later, the trial court canvassed Defendant a second time regarding his decision to represent himself. Defendant responded affirmatively. After the ensuing trial, Defendant was found guilty of certain crimes stemming from the robbery. On appeal, Defendant argued that the first canvass was inadequate, and therefore, his initial waiver of the right to counsel was not knowing and voluntary. The Appellate Court concluded that the first canvass was deficient but that the error was harmless inasmuch as Defendant was canvassed a second time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that any inadequacy in the first canvass was harmless as a result of the second, adequate canvass. View "State v. Cushard" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s action against Defendants in their individual capacities was properly dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff, an inmate, brought this action against defendant state employees in their official and invidious capacities, alleging that they had violated his constitutional rights because they were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the claims against Defendants in their individual capacities because Plaintiff failed properly to serve Defendants in their individual capacities pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-57(a). The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court fully considered and properly resolved the issue against Plaintiff. View "Harnage v. Lightner" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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Under certain circumstances, the privileged psychiatric records of a witness testifying for the state are subject to in camera review by the trial court so that the court can determine whether the accused’s constitutional right of confrontation allows him or her to access those records. Defendant was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree with a firearm. Defendant claimed that the trial court erred in declining to extend its holding in State v. Esposito, 471 A.2d 949 (1984), and violated his constitutional right to present a defense when it refused to conduct an in camera review of certain records of the victim protected by the psychiatrist-patient privilege where Defendant alleged that those records contained information material to his claim of self-defense. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the interests of an accused must prevail over a homicide victim’s psychiatrist-patient privilege when the accused makes a sufficient showing that the privileged information is pertinent to a claim of self-defense; but (2) Defendant’s constitutional claims were not adequately preserved at trial, and therefore, Defendant was not entitled to review under State v. Golding, 267 A.2d 832 (1989). View "State v. Fay" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Petitioner alleging that a 2013 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-125a repealing a provision advancing certain inmates’ parole eligibility dates by earned risk reduction credit violated the ex post facto clause of the federal constitution. The habeas court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that Petitioner suffered no increase in punishment that would constitute a violation of the ex post facto clause. The Supreme Court affirmed for the reasons set forth in Perez v. Commissioner of Correction, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2017), holding that the habeas court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Petitioner’s ex post facto claim. View "James E. v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court’s conclusion that Defendant failed to establish that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in a residence he had leased to a third party. Defendant was charged with drug related offenses after the police found marijuana plants during a search at the residence. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence gathered during the search and his subsequent incriminating statements to the police as the fruits of a warrantless and illegal search. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant then entered a conditional plea of nolo contendere. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts, holding (1) Defendant lacked standing to challenge the warrantless search of the property because Defendant lacked a subjective expectation of privacy therein; and (2) the police possessed a reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Defendant and later had probable cause to arrest him. View "State v. Houghtaling" on Justia Law

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The Connecticut Supreme Court reversed defendant's conviction for breach of the peace in the second degree in connection with a customer dispute with a supermarket employee. The court held that the conviction constituted a violation of the First Amendment to the United States constitution because defendant's speech, unaccompanied by threats, did not fall within the narrow category of unprotected fighting words. In this case, the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the employee was likely to have retaliated with violence in response to defendant's words under the circumstances in which they were uttered. Accordingly, the court remanded for a judgment of acquittal. View "State v. Baccala" on Justia Law

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Genovese v. Gallo Wine Merchants, Inc., 628 A.2d 946 (Conn. 1993), which held that, under Con. Gen. Stat. 31-51bb, a factual determination made in a final and binding arbitration conducted pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement does not have a preclusive effect in a subsequent action claiming a constitutional or statutory violation, is still good law. Plaintiff brought the present action alleging that her termination was in retaliation for bringing a previous action against Defendant alleging sex discrimination and for engaging in protected speech. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the factual underpinnings of the claims had been decided against her by the board of mediation in arbitration proceedings. The trial court denied the motion, citing Genovese. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus declining Defendant’s invitation to overrule Genovese. View "Spiotti v. Wolcott" on Justia Law