The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Criminal Law Supreme and Appellate Court Opinions

by Booth, George

 

SC19375 - State v. Chyung (Murder; manslaughter first degree with firearm; "The primary issue that we must decide in this appeal is whether the trial court properly denied the defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal and for a new trial after the jury rendered legally inconsistent guilty verdicts on charges of murder and of manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm. The state charged the defendant, Chihan Eric Chyung, with murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a and manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-55a (a) in connection with the shooting death of his wife, Paige Chyung (victim). After a trial, the jury rendered verdicts of guilty on both charges. Thereafter, the defendant filed a motion for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial contending that the verdicts were legally inconsistent because, to convict the defendant of murder, the jury had to find that he had a specific intent to kill the victim, whereas, to convict him of manslaughter in the first degree, the jury was required to find that he acted recklessly. The trial court denied the motion on the ground that the defendant had waived the claim by failing to request a jury instruction that he could not be convicted of both charges. The trial court also concluded, however, that the verdict of guilty on the manslaughter charge must be vacated pursuant to case law holding that, when a defendant is convicted of both a greater offense and a lesser included offense, thereby violating constitutional double jeopardy principles, the proper remedy is to vacate the conviction on the lesser included offense. After vacating the guilty verdict of manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm, the trial court sentenced the defendant to forty years imprisonment on the murder charge. This appeal followed. We conclude that the trial court improperly determined that the defendant had waived the claim that the guilty verdicts on the charges of murder and manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm were legally inconsistent by failing to request a jury instruction on the issue. Rather, we conclude that legally inconsistent verdicts involve jury error that may be raised for the first time after the verdicts have been returned or on appeal. Because we conclude that the verdicts were legally inconsistent, and because there is no way for the trial court or this court to know which charge the jury found to be supported by the evidence, neither verdict can stand. Accordingly, we conclude that both guilty verdicts must be vacated and the case must be remanded to the trial court for a new trial.")

SC19492 - State v. Bush (Sale of narcotics by drug-dependent person; sale of narcotics within 1500 feet of school by drug dependent person; conspiracy to sell narcotics; racketeering; "This certified appeal presents two significant issues, namely: (1) whether a court, in determining if sufficient evidence of an enterprise exists to sustain a conviction of racketeering in violation of the Corrupt Organization and Racketeering Activity Act (CORA), General Statutes § 53-393 et seq., may consider the entire record, or is limited to the evidence concerning only those predicate "incidents of racketeering activity" found by the jury in the special verdict required by General Statutes § 53-396 (b); and (2) the degree to which a trial court has discretion to deny a motion for a continuance filed by a criminal defendant that seeks time to prepare for trial after that defendant had elected, pursuant to Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 95 S. Ct. 2525, 45 L. Ed. 2d 562 (1975), to discharge his attorney and proceed as a self-represented party. The state appeals, upon our grant of its petition for certification, from the judgment of the Appellate Court reversing the judgment of the trial court, rendered after a jury trial, convicting the defendant, Richard Bush, of six counts of the sale of narcotics by a person who is drug-dependent in violation of General Statutes § 21a-277 (a), six counts of sale of narcotics within 1500 feet of a school by a person who is drug-dependent in violation of General Statutes §§ 21a-277 and 21a-278a (b), one count of conspiracy to sell narcotics in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 and 21a-278 (b), and one count of racketeering in violation of General Statutes § 53-395 (c). State v. Bush, 156 Conn. App. 256, 258–59, 112 A.3d 834 (2015). On appeal, the state claims that the Appellate Court improperly concluded that: (1) the defendant was entitled to a judgment of acquittal with respect to the racketeering conviction because the two predicate acts of racketeering, identified by the jury pursuant to § 53-396 (b), did not constitute sufficient evidence of an enterprise; and (2) a new trial was required for the remaining offenses because the denial of a continuance effectively deprived the defendant of his right of self-representation. With respect to the racketeering conviction, we conclude that the Appellate Court improperly circumscribed its sufficiency of the evidence analysis by limiting it to the two predicate acts, but nevertheless properly determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the racketeering conviction. With respect to the other convictions, we conclude that the Appellate Court improperly determined that the denial of a continuance effectively deprived the defendant of his right of self-representation. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the Appellate Court.")

AC37867 - State v. Morales (Intentional manslaughter in first degree with firearm; criminal possession of firearm; "The defendant, Angel Morales, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of intentional manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-55a (a) and criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217 (a) (1) (criminal possession). On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred (1) by denying his motion to bifurcate the elements of criminal possession or to sever the murder charges brought against him from the criminal possession charge; (2) in instructing the jury on combat by agreement; and (3) in refusing to instruct the jury on the common-law defense of necessity. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC37285 - Turner v. State (Petition for new trial; "The petitioner, Corey Turner, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying on statute of limitations grounds his petition for a new trial filed pursuant to General Statutes § 52-270. The petitioner concedes that he filed his petition outside of the three year limitations period set forth in General Statutes § 52-582. Instead, he claims that the trial court improperly failed to exercise its equitable power to toll the statute of limitations, thereby unfairly denying him access to a remedy. We conclude that the petitioner's failure to comply with § 52-582 deprived the court of jurisdiction to consider the petition. Because the court should have dismissed the untimely petition, rather than having denied it, we reverse the judgment of the trial court only as to the form of the judgment and remand with direction to dismiss the petition for new trial.")