Judicial District of New Haven


Criminal; Whether Trial Court's Consolidation of Three Separate Informations was Proper.  In three separate informations, the state accused the defendant of shooting Victoria Standberry, robbing Lenwood Smith and robbing Leonard Hughes.  Over the defendant's objections, the trial court consolidated the three informations for a single trial.  The jury found the defendant guilty of the charges pertaining to the Standberry and Smith incidents and not guilty of the charges pertaining to the Hughes incident.  On appeal, the defendant claimed that the court's consolidation of the informations was improper.  Specifically, he argued, among other things, that the brutal evidence concerning the Standberry incident aroused the passions of the jury, thereby compromising its ability to evaluate fairly his culpability with regard to the other incidents.  The Appellate Court disagreed (98 Conn. App. 608) and affirmed the convictions.  In so ruling, it emphasized that the Standberry incident did not involve conduct that was so brutal and shocking as to create a substantial risk that the jury would treat the evidence cumulatively, distinguishing this case from cases involving sexual assault crimes.  It also noted that the three informations contained allegations of factually dissimilar crimes, that the defendant's trial was not unduly long or complex and that there was an orderly chronological presentation of the evidence by the state.  It also concluded that any prejudice suffered by the defendant was cured by the trial court's repeated instructions that the jury treat each information as a distinct matter.  The court opined that the order in which the jury returned its verdicts indicated that it heeded these instructions; that is, the jury first returned a guilty verdict as to the Smith robbery and then, after further deliberations, it returned a guilty verdict with respect to the Standberry assault, and after further instructions from the court, it returned a verdict of not guilty as to the Hughes robbery.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court's decision was proper.