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Habeas Supreme Court Opinion

by Townsend, Karen


SC19460 - St. Juste v. Commissioner of Correction (Amended petition for writ of habeas; immigration act; claim of ineffective assistance of counsel; "This certified appeal presents a question of first impression to this court, namely, whether we should apply the federal courts’ modified categorical analysis to determine whether a Connecticut criminal statute, which lists potential offense elements in the alternative, carries the adverse immigration consequences attendant to a crime of moral turpitude as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101 (a) (13) (C) (v) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (immigration act), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq.… Specifically, the Appellate Court concluded that a prior unchallenged conviction of threatening in the second degree in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2005) § 53a-62 (a),3 which the Appellate Court concluded constituted a crime of moral turpitude under the immigration act, would remain as an impediment to the petitioner’s reentry. Id. Following case law from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, we conclude that § 53a-62 (a) is a divisible statute because it lists potential offense elements in the alternative, not all of which constitute crimes of moral turpitude as a matter of federal law. Applying a modified categorical approach to this divisible statute, because the record does not establish the subdivision of § 53a- 62 (a) under which the petitioner was convicted, we further conclude that the Appellate Court improperly determined that the petitioner’s threatening conviction constituted a crime of moral turpitude that rendered moot his habeas appeal challenging his assault conviction. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court.")