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


SC20048 - State v. Holmes (Felony murder; home invasion, conspiracy to commit home invasion; criminal possession of firearm; "C. J. From its inception, the United States Supreme Court's landmark decision in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S. Ct. 1712, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69 (1986), has been roundly criticized as ineffectual in addressing the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges during jury selection, largely because it fails to address the effect of implicit bias or lines of voir dire questioning with a disparate impact on minority jurors. Consistent with these long-standing criticisms of Batson, the defendant, Evan Jaron Holmes, asks us in this certified appeal to overrule the line of cases in which this court held that a prospective juror's negative views about the police and the fairness of the criminal justice system constitute a race neutral reason for the use of a peremptory challenge to strike that juror. See, e.g., State v. King, 249 Conn. 645, 664–67, 735 A.2d 267 (1999). We conclude that the challenged line of cases, on which the Appellate Court relied in upholding the defendant's conviction of felony murder on the basis of its rejection of his Batson claim arising from the prosecutor's use of a peremptory challenge during jury selection; see State v. Holmes, 176 Conn. App. 156, 175–77, 169 A.3d 264 (2017); remains consistent with the federal constitutional case law that provides the sole basis for the Batson claim. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court in this case but refer the systemic concerns about Batson's failure to address the effects of implicit bias and disparate impact to a Jury Selection Task Force, appointed by the Chief Justice, to consider measures intended to promote the selection of diverse jury panels in our state's courthouses.")

SC20042 - State v. Raynor (Assault first degree as accessory; conspiracy to commit assault first degree; certification from Appellate Court; "The defendant, James Raynor, appeals, upon our grant of his petition for certification, from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming his conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of assault in the first degree as an accessory in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-59 (a) (5) and 53a-8, and conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-59 (a) (5) and 53a-48. State v. Raynor, 175 Conn. App. 409, 412–13, 167 A.3d 1076 (2017). On appeal, the defendant claims that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that that the record was inadequate to review his challenge under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S. Ct. 1712, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69 (1986), to the prosecutor's exercise of a peremptory challenge on prospective juror R.E. on the basis of his employment history, even though the record does not indicate the race or ethnicity of both R.E. and one of the two jurors, I.L. and G.H., whom the defendant highlighted as examples of disparate treatment by the prosecutor. In response, the state disagrees and also proffers, as an alternative ground for affirmance, that the trial court did not commit clear error in finding that the prosecutor did not engage in purposeful discrimination when he peremptorily challenged R.E. We affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")

SC19869 - State v. Moore (Murder; certification from Appellate Court; "After examining the entire record on appeal and considering the briefs and oral arguments of the parties, we have determined that the appeal in this case should be dismissed on the ground that certification was improvidently granted.

Beyond dismissing the appeal, however, we offer an additional observation with respect to the defendant's request, supported by the amicus curiae Office of the Chief Public Defender, to exercise our supervisory authority over the administration of justice to enhance the diversity of our state's juries by requiring the jury administrator to collect racial and demographic information about prospective jurors, including by (1) amending the juror questionnaire to mandate the inclusion of racial and ethnic background, rather than the current practice under § 51-232 (c) of making the provision of such information voluntary, which might skew the data collected, and (2) maintaining statistical information based on that data prior to the destruction of the questionnaires in accordance with Judicial Branch policy intended to protect juror confidentiality. See, e.g., Barlow v. Commissioner of Correction, 328 Conn. 610, 612–15, 182 A.3d 78 (2018) (providing additional explanation in dismissing appeal as improvidently granted). As we noted in State v. Raynor, 334 Conn. ___, ___, ___ A.3d ___ (2019), a companion case raising similar issues in the context of claims under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S. Ct. 1712, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69 (1986), the fact that the legislature has acted in this area by enacting § 51-232 (c)—which specifically makes the provision of racial and ethnic data optional for the juror—renders us reluctant to exercise our supervisory authority in the sweeping manner sought by the defendant and the amicus curiae Office of the Chief Public Defender. Instead, we anticipate these issues will be considered by the Jury Selection Task Force, which the Chief Justice will appoint pursuant to our decision in State v. Holmes, 334 Conn. ___, ___, ___ A.3d ___ (2019), to suggest those changes to court policies, rules, and legislation necessary to ensure that our state court juries are representative of Connecticut's diverse population.

The appeal is dismissed.")

AC42490 - State v. Mukhtaar (Murder; "The self-represented defendant, Abdul Mukhtaar, appeals from the trial court's dismissal of his motion for a second sentence review hearing. The court dismissed the defendant's motion after finding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider the motion. We affirm the judgment of the court dismissing the defendant's motion.")

AC42061, AC42062 - State v. Bradley (Sale of controlled substance; violation of probation; "In this consolidated appeal, the defendant, William Hyde Bradley, appeals from judgments that were rendered against him by the trial court following his entry of conditional pleas of nolo contendere to charges of sale of a controlled substance in violation of General Statutes § 21a-277 (b) and violation of probation in violation of General Statutes § 53a-32. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court erred in denying his motions to dismiss those charges, wherein he argued, inter alia, that his prosecution under Connecticut's statutes criminalizing the possession and sale of marijuana violated his rights under the equal protection clause of the United States constitution because such statutes were enacted for the illicit purpose of discriminating against persons of African-American and Mexican descent. We affirm the judgments of the court, concluding that it did not err in denying the defendant's motions to dismiss. We do so, however, on the alternative ground raised by the state that the defendant, as a nonmember of either group of persons against whom he claims that the challenged statutes were enacted to discriminate, lacked standing to bring such an equal protection claim. Accordingly, we do not reach the merits of the defendant's equal protection claim on this appeal.")