STATE v. RUBEN ROMAN, SC 19474

Judicial District of Hartford

 

†††† †Criminal; Whether Defendant's Right to Impartial Jury Violated by Juror Misconduct; Whether Defendant's Rights to Due Process and Speedy Trial Violated by Delay in Scheduling Evidentiary Hearing on Juror Misconduct Claim.† The defendant was convicted of murder in 2000.† He appealed, claiming, among other things, that the trial court improperly failed to conduct a preliminary inquiry into his allegation of juror misconduct.† The Appellate Court rejected that claim and affirmed the conviction.† In 2003, the Supreme Court, on concluding that the trial court should have inquired into the defendantís juror misconduct claim, reversed the Appellate Court's judgment in part and directed that the case be remanded to the trial court for further proceedings on that claim.† The trial court conducted a hearing on the juror misconduct claim in 2013.† A witness testified that, during the trial, she was on a city bus and overheard several passengers discussing information about the defendantís trial that was obtained from a juror.† All the available jurors testified that they did not discuss the trial with individuals who rode the public bus system.† In his posthearing brief, the defendant also claimed that his due process rights were violated because of the thirteen year delay between his trial and the hearing on the juror misconduct claim.† The trial court rejected the defendant's claims, determining that no juror misconduct occurred and finding, as to the delay claim, that the defendant's attorneys were not particularly aggressive in scheduling the proceedings on remand.† The defendant appeals, claiming that his right to a fair trial before an impartial jury was violated because the evidence from the hearing showed that at least one juror was discussing the case with nonjurors and that alternate jurors made biased comments against him in the presence of impaneled jurors.† In addition, the defendant claims that, under the test established in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), for assessing speedy trial claims, his due process rights were violated by the delay in scheduling the hearing on remand.† Connecticut courts have utilized the Barker v. Wingo factors in evaluating claims of due process violations arising from delay in the prosecution of appeals, and the defendant asserts that the right to a prompt appeal encompasses the right to a timely remedy should a party be successful on appeal.† He contends that, applying the Barker v. Wingo factors, the delay here impaired his right to a speedy adjudication because it was lengthy, the scheduling of the hearing was outside of his control and he requested a hearing on numerous occasions, and he was prejudiced because the delay significantly impaired his ability to prove his claim of juror misconduct.† In support of his claim that he was prejudiced by the delay, the defendant notes that the judge who presided over his criminal trial and one of the witnesses died prior to the 2013 proceedings on his juror misconduct claim.† †††††