STATE v. TYRONE BROWN, SC 18870
Judicial District of Fairfield
Criminal; Whether Defendant's Refusal to Answer Questions After Being Advised of Miranda Rights was Admissible. The defendant was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and operating a motor vehicle while having an elevated blood alcohol content. At trial, the court admitted the A-44 form that the arresting officer prepared in connection with the defendant's arrest. An A-44 form is a preprinted form that the police use to report an arrest related to operating a motor vehicle under the influence. The officer noted on the form that the defendant refused to answer the questions of how much he had drunk, where he had drunk, when he last had eaten and what he had eaten. The officer testified that he asked the defendant questions from the form after advising the defendant of his Miranda rights. On cross-examination, the defendant asked the arresting officer whether the defendant was cooperative, obeyed instructions and did what he was told. The officer responded in the affirmative. The defendant also questioned the officer as to whether he "asked [the defendant] a whole bunch of questions" and proceeded to list several of the questions on the form. On redirect examination, the state asked the officer whether he asked the defendant "with regards to this form how much he had to drink." The officer responded in the affirmative and then, in response to further questioning by the state, testified that the defendant refused to answer the question. Over the defendant's objection, the trial court allowed the testimony on the ground that the defendant had opened the door to the line of questioning. On appeal from his convictions, the defendant argued that the trial court violated his due process rights by admitting evidence of his refusal to answer certain questions posed by the arresting officer after he was advised of his Miranda rights. The Appellate Court (131 Conn. App. 275) found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the state's inquiry into the defendant's refusal to answer certain questions on the A-44 form was proper because, by asking on cross-examination whether the defendant was cooperative with the arresting officer, the defendant opened the door to the state's follow-up questions on redirect. The Appellate Court noted that the defendant could not reap the benefits of inquiry into a subject and expect the state's questioning within the same subject to be impermissible. In this certified appeal, the Supreme Court will consider whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the defendant's refusal to answer questions after he was given Miranda warnings was admissible.