STATE v. RICHARD BUSH, SC 19492
Judicial District of Fairfield
Criminal; Whether Evidence Sufficient to Convict Defendant of Racketeering; Whether Trial Court Violated Defendant's Sixth Amendment Right to Self-representation by Denying his Request for Continuance of Trial. The defendant was convicted of sale of narcotics by a person who is drug-dependent, sale of narcotics within 1500 feet of a school by a person who is drug-dependent, conspiracy to sell narcotics and a violation of § 53-395 of the Corrupt Organizations and Racketeering Activity Act (CORA). The defendant’s convictions stemmed from his involvement in seven separate sales of cocaine to an undercover police informant. The defendant appealed, and the Appellate Court (156 Conn. App. 256) reversed the convictions. The Appellate Court held that there was insufficient evidence to support the CORA conviction because the state failed to prove either the existence of an enterprise formed for the common purpose of selling narcotics or that the defendant was associated with such an enterprise. The court noted that there was no evidence presented at trial that the defendant had a long-term relationship with either of his confederates for the common purpose of selling drugs or that his two confederates had any relationship at all with each other. The Appellate Court also held that the trial court violated the defendant’s constitutional right to self-representation by denying his request for a continuance of the trial. The defendant, who had been represented by counsel until the middle of jury selection, had sought the continuance so that he could review the case file prior to the start of evidence a few days later. The Appellate Court found that the ruling deprived the defendant of a meaningful opportunity to review the file and therefore substantially impaired his ability to defend himself at trial. The court also found that the ruling effectively undermined the defendant’s right to self-representation by forcing him to accept the services of the attorney who had previously represented him in order to avoid the prospect of proceeding to trial unprepared. The Supreme Court granted the state certification to appeal and will consider whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that there was insufficient evidence to convict the defendant of racketeering in violation of General Statutes § 53-395 (c) and that the trial court violated the defendant's sixth amendment right to self-representation by denying his request for a continuance to review the case file before the start of evidence at trial.