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State v. Haye

Supreme Court of Connecticut

April 10, 1990

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Harland S. HAYE.

Argued Feb. 8, 1990.

Page 975

Dennis F. O'Toole, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

Leah Hawley, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were John M. Bailey, State's Atty., Dennis O'Connor, and John Malone, Asst. State's Attys., and Lawrence Daley, former Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (State).

Before PETERS, C.J., and GLASS, COVELLO, HULL and HENNESSY, JJ.

[214 Conn. 477] HULL, Associate Justice.

The defendant, Harland S. Haye, has appealed from his conviction upon a conditional plea of nolo contendere [1] to an information charging him with murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a. [2] The trial court imposed a sentence of twenty-five years imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred in denying his motions to dismiss, for lack of jurisdiction, the information charging him with the crime of murder, because the probable cause hearing required by General Statutes § 54-46a [3] was not held [214 Conn. 478] within sixty days of the filing of the information in the Superior Court. We find no error.

The defendant's claim is based on the following procedural facts. On December 15, 1987, an information charging the defendant with the crime of murder was filed in the Hartford Superior Court. Pursuant to § 54-46a, a probable cause hearing was scheduled for February 5, 1988. On February 5, 1988, the state requested, without objection by the defendant, that the probable cause hearing be continued for six days, due to the state's difficulty in procuring its witnesses. The court, Byrne, J., granted the continuance and rescheduled

Page 976

the probable cause hearing for February 11, 1988.

The state, however, was unable to secure three of its witnesses by February 11, 1988, and on that date again requested that the court, Byrne, J., continue the date of the probable cause hearing. Recognizing that its request would establish a hearing date beyond the sixty day limit provided in § 54-46a(b), [4] the state, in order to show good cause, offered the following explanation: "We have four witnesses to this incident. One is dead--having been, I believe, shot in New York City. One ... has a warrant outstanding for murder against him and is in parts unknown. Two other witnesses have contacted us; and, one, particularly was suppose [sic] to be here and is not. And, that person ... is essential to the presentation of the case; and [214 Conn. 479] we are making every effort to locate him. [Our] [i]nspector ... has spread his business card throughout a particular area in Hartford to try to locate him. We've had contact from the gentleman.... [T]he mother of this particular witness ... had assured us that her son would be here. He would not--when I talked to him the other day ... give me his phone number or his address. He indicated that he would be here. He is not." The state then explained, in response to questioning from the court, that subpoenas had not been issued because the state was unaware of the witnesses' whereabouts. In conclusion, the state argued: "I represent to the Court, as a commissioner, that we have made--as far as I can see--every possible effort, short of physically grabbing someone and we will continue to make that effort, if the Court grants my request for a continuance for good cause shown; which, I believe, has been established."

The defendant objected to the requested continuance, arguing as follows: "This is the second continuance the State has had. This was originally scheduled for--on--last week, on February 5th and the State was given a continuance until today, to try and get their witnesses, as he stated. Subpoenas have not been issued. The defendant certainly objects to any continuance beyond the sixty day period. I don't believe there's any cause on the defendant's part. I mean--he hasn't necessitated the delay in any way and I don't think he should be penalized because the State can not produce their witnesses. I would object to the delay."

Despite the defendant's objection, the court granted the state's request for a continuance and rescheduled the probable cause hearing for February 25, 1988. The court stated in making its ruling, that "the State [had] shown good cause, but [that it would] not give any extension past February 25th." The defendant then asked that his objection to the continuance be noted.

[214 Conn. 480] The defendant thereafter filed a motion, dated February 23, 1988, to dismiss the information charging him with murder, claiming that "[n]o good cause [was] shown to continue the preliminary hearing beyond 60 days [and therefore the] court lack[ed] personal jurisdiction over [the defendant]." This motion was denied by the court, Ripley, J., on February 25, 1988. Consequently, on that same date, seventy-two days after the information against the defendant had been filed in the Superior Court, the hearing was held at which it was determined that probable cause existed to try the defendant for the crime of murder.

On September 23, 1988, the defendant filed another motion to dismiss the information charging him with murder. The defendant argued that the granting of the state's second continuance had violated his due process rights, because the extension was granted solely on the representations of the state, rather than on findings of fact made pursuant to an evidentiary hearing. Because the continuance had been improperly granted, causing the probable cause hearing to be improperly delayed, argued the defendant, the court lacked jurisdiction to try him for the crime of murder. The court, Freed, J., denied the defendant's motion,

Page 977

citing two reasons for its ruling: the defendant's failure to object on February 11, 1988, to the fact that no evidentiary hearing was held; and the court's finding that the uncontested representations made by the state were "sufficient, both procedurally and factually, for a finding and a determination that there was good cause shown and that a continuance could properly be granted pursuant to the Statute." The defendant thereafter entered a conditional plea of nolo contendere to the charge of murder.

The defendant renews on appeal his claim that the court had no jurisdiction to try him for the crime of murder, because the probable cause hearing was not [214 Conn. 481] held within sixty days of the filing of the information charging him with that crime. Although the defendant recognizes that the sixty day period may, by statute, be extended "for good cause shown," he presents a three-fold argument: (1) given that no evidentiary hearing was conducted prior to the granting of the continuance, the state necessarily did not meet its burden of showing good cause; (2) in the absence of a showing of good cause, the date of the probable cause hearing could not be extended beyond the sixty day limit set by statute; and (3) since the probable cause hearing was conducted seventy-two days after the filing of the information, that information should have been dismissed due to the ...


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