Judicial District of Windham


     Criminal; Whether General Statutes § 17a-593 (c) Violates Equal Protection Rights by Treating Recommitted Insanity Acquittees Differently from Civilly Committed Inmates; Whether the Trial Court Lacks Jurisdiction to Consider an Insanity Acquittee's Challenge to the Validity of His Plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.  In 1985, after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of kidnapping, the acquittee, Anthony Dyous, was committed to the jurisdiction of the psychiatric security review board (board) for a period not to exceed twenty-five years.  In April, 2009, the state filed a petition to extend the commitment.  General Statutes § 17a-593 (c) permits a court to extend the commitment of an acquittee past his initial term of commitment if his discharge would constitute a danger to himself or others.  The acquittee filed a motion to dismiss the petition, arguing first that § 17a-593 (c), on its face, violates the federal equal protection clause because it does not afford an acquittee the same substantive rights and due process protections that are afforded mentally ill prisoners who are civilly committed after they are incarcerated.  The acquittee asserted that intermediate scrutiny, rather than the rational basis test, was the appropriate standard for reviewing his equal protection claim.  The trial court concluded that the acquittee's claims were controlled by State v. Long, 268 Conn. 508 (2004).  In that case, the Supreme Court determined that, because § 17a-593 (c) neither affects a suspect group nor implicates a fundamental right for the purposes of the equal protection clause, the constitutionality of § 17a-593 (c) must be gauged under the rational basis test; it further held that § 17a-593 (c) does not violate the equal protection clause because there are rational reasons justifying the disparate treatment of acquittees and civilly committed inmates.  Next, the court rejected the acquittee's claim that § 17a-593 (c) as applied violated his equal protection rights.  It ruled that there was no evidence that the application of § 17a-593 (c) to the acquittee resulted in him being treated differently from any other acquittee found to be mentally ill and a danger to himself or others.  Finally, the acquittee argued that his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity violated his constitutional right to due process in that he was never advised that his original commitment could be extended.  The court noted that it is well established that, in the absence of a legislative or constitutional grant of continuing jurisdiction, the trial court loses jurisdiction to modify its judgment once a guilty defendant is committed to the custody of the commissioner of correction.  Applying that rationale, the court dismissed the acquittee's claim challenging the validity of his plea, noting that there is no statutory provision giving the trial court jurisdiction to consider such a claim once an acquittee is committed to the custody of the board.  Thereafter, the court granted the state's petition to extend the commitment.  On appeal, the acquittee asks that Long be overruled and that intermediate scrutiny be applied to his equal protection claims.  He further contends that § 17a-593 (c), when properly subjected to intermediate scrutiny, is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to him.  Finally, he claims the trial court wrongly dismissed his claim that his plea was invalid because it was not entered knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently.