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


SC19885 - State v. Fernando V. (Sexual assault second degree; risk of injury to child; certification from Appellate Court; "This is a certified criminal appeal from an Appellate Court decision reversing a judgment of conviction arising out of allegations by the complainant, B, that her stepfather, the defendant Fernando V., sexually assaulted her repeatedly over a period of years while she was in middle school and high school. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment of conviction on the ground that the trial court improperly precluded the defendant from calling the complainant's longtime boyfriend, P, as a witness regarding his observations of certain aspects of B's behavior that the state's expert witness had testified were common symptoms of child sexual assault. See State v. Fernando V., 170 Conn. App. 44, 68–69, 153 A.3d 701 (2016). The Appellate Court concluded that the improper exclusion of P's testimony was not harmless because the evidence may have helped "to show that B failed to exhibit behaviors often attributed to sexual assault victims," which could have "dissuaded the jury from believing B's story generally . . . ." Id., 68. We affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")

AC37826 - State v. Simmons (Assault in first degree; criminal possession of pistol or revolver; carrying pistol without permit; "The defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of two counts of assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (5), criminal possession of a pistol or revolver in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217c (a) (1), and carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35 (a). On appeal, the defendant claims, in his initial brief, that the prosecutor committed improprieties during closing argument that deprived him of his right to a fair trial, including, among other things, suggesting to the jury that it could consider as substantive evidence a prior statement of Harris that was admitted at trial only for impeachment purposes, in which he identified the defendant as his assailant. We later granted the defendant permission to file a supplemental brief addressing an additional claim of prosecutorial impropriety, namely, whether the defendant's right to due process was violated by the state's failure to disclose to him, prior to trial, certain exculpatory evidence relevant to the veracity of the detective who took a statement from the defendant. See Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963).

After oral argument before this court, and on the basis of our review of the record, we ordered the parties, sua sponte, to file additional supplemental briefs addressing an unpreserved claim of error not raised by the parties, namely, "(1) whether the state's agreement not to prosecute George Harris for any future acts of perjury committed while testifying for the state at the defendant's trial constituted plain error because it violates the public policy of this state against immunizing perjured testimony; see General Statutes § 54-47a; see also State v. Giraud, 258 Conn. 631, 634–35, 783 A.2d 1019 (2001); and (2) if so, whether such error was structural error or subject to harmless error analysis." Each party filed a supplemental brief. In its brief, the state conceded that its grant of immunity to Harris was improper. We later asked the parties to submit additional supplemental briefs addressing whether this court should exercise its supervisory authority to reverse the conviction. Because we exercise our supervisory powers to order a new trial for the defendant on the basis of the improper grant of immunity to Harris, we do not reach the merits of the remaining claims raised by the defendant.")