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

 

SC19759 - State v. Milner (Criminal trespass; interfering with officer; disorderly conduct; motion for disqualification of judicial authority pursuant to rule of practice (§ 1-23); "Following an incident at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, the defendant, Mack Milner, was convicted of one count of interfering with an officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167a (a), one count of criminal trespass in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-107 (a) (1), and two counts of disorderly conduct in violation of General Statutes § 53a-182 (a) (2) and (3). The issue before this court is whether the judge who presided over the criminal trial abused his discretion in denying the defendant's oral motion for disqualification following the judge's disclosure that he previously had been employed by the hospital. We conclude that the limited facts in the record provide no basis to conclude that the trial court abused its discretion.")

AC38788 - State v. Martinez (Felony murder; robbery in first degree, conspiracy to commit robbery in first degree; tampering with evidence; "The defendant, Johnny Martinez, appeals from the judgment of conviction rendered by the trial court, following a jury trial, of felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (1), robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (3), conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 (a) and 53a-134 (a), and tampering with evidence in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2010) § 53a-155 (a) (1). The defendant claims that the court (1) violated his right to present a defense by prohibiting him from presenting evidence concerning an altercation that took place in the hours prior to the events at issue, (2) violated his right to cross-examination by limiting the scope of his cross-examination of a state's witness, (3) improperly instructed the jury with respect to accessorial liability in the course of its instructions concerning the murder count, (4) improperly failed to comply with the jury's request to have certain testimony played back, and (5) improperly denied his request to suppress a written statement that he provided to the police. We dismiss the appeal with respect to the third claim, and with respect to the remainder of the appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

AC36834 - State v. Day (Assault of elderly person in first degree; attempt to commit robbery in first degree; criminal possession of firearm; "The defendant, Robert Day, appeals from the judgment of conviction that was rendered against him after a bifurcated trial in the judicial district of Waterbury upon the verdict of a jury finding him guilty of assault of an elderly person in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59a (a) (1), and attempt to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-49 (a) (2) and 53a-134 (a) (2), and the separate decision of the trial court finding him guilty of criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217 (a) (1). The defendant's principal claims on appeal concern the state’s use against him in that trial of eyewitness identification testimony from the two victims of the charged offenses, both of whom identified him as the perpetrator.

The defendant first claims that the court violated his state and federal constitutional rights not to be deprived of his liberty without due process of law by denying his pretrial motions to suppress the victims' out-of-court and in-court identifications of him as the perpetrator of the charged offenses. He argues that the challenged identifications should have been suppressed as the unreliable products of unnecessarily suggestive pretrial identification procedures which were used by the state to obtain and reinforce those identifications. Although we agree with the defendant that the procedures by which the state obtained and later bolstered the victims' confidence in their challenged identifications were unnecessarily suggestive, we conclude that such identifications were not rendered so unreliable by those suggestive procedures as to make them constitutionally inadmissible at trial. We therefore conclude that the court did not err by denying the defendant's pretrial motions to suppress such identifications.

The defendant also claims, however, that even if the challenged identifications were properly admitted against him at trial, the court committed two other errors that materially affected the jury's ability to make a proper assessment of the reliability of such identifications when conducting its deliberations. First, he claims that the court erred by precluding expert testimony from Dr. Steven Penrod, a qualified expert witness on the subject of eyewitness identification, as to certain aspects of the photographic identification procedures that were used to obtain the victims' identifications of the defendant in this case that are well known by scientific researchers to decrease the reliability of eyewitness identifications resulting from their use. Second, he claims that the court erred by failing to instruct the jury, in accordance with his timely request to charge, that it could properly consider those reliability factors and several others about which Penrod did testify before the jury as scientifically valid bases for questioning the reliability of the victims' identification testimony in this case. Although we agree with the defendant that the court erred in precluding his expert from testifying as to the tendency of certain aspects of the identification procedures used in this case to produce unreliable eyewitness identifications, we cannot conclude that the limited preclusion of such testimony substantially affected the jury's verdict. We reject the defendant's claim that the court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the subject of eyewitness identifications in accordance with his request to charge. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")