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Carraway v. Comm'r of Corr.

Supreme Court of Connecticut

July 21, 2015

WILTON CARRAWAY
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

Argued May 20, 2015

Amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the court, Sferrazza, J.; judgment denying the petition, from which the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to the Appellate Court, Beach, Bear and Sheldon, Js., which reversed the habeas court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, and the respondent, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court.

SYLLABUS

The petitioner, who, after a plea of nolo contendere, had been convicted of assault in the first degree, appealed to the Appellate Court from the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus by the habeas court. The petitioner had claimed that his trial counsel failed to provide sufficient information to enable the petitioner to make an informed decision about whether to plead nolo contendere. The habeas court relied on the prejudice standard enunciated in Copas v. Commissioner of Correction (234 Conn. 139, 662 A.2d 718), in which this court interpreted the United States Supreme Court decision in Hill v. Lockhart (474 U.S. 52, 106 S.Ct. 366, 88 L.Ed.2d 203) to require that a petitioner demonstrate both a reasonable probability that but for counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial, and that evidence that had been undiscovered or defenses he claims should have been introduced would likely have been successful at trial. Consistent with that standard, the habeas court concluded that the petitioner here failed to satisfy the prejudice prong because he had failed to demonstrate that he would have had a more favorable outcome if he had proceeded to trial. On appeal to the Appellate Court, the petitioner claimed only that the habeas court had improperly applied the Copas standard to the facts of his case, not that the court applied the wrong standard. The respondent Commissioner of Correction asserted that the petitioner's claim failed under the Copas standard for prejudice, but also noted that that standard was incorrect. The Appellate Court concluded that the Copas standard was inconsistent with federal law and stated that the issue to be resolved was whether, but for counsel's alleged deficient performance, the petitioner would have insisted on going to trial, and not that the outcome was more likely to have been more successful at trial. Although the Appellate Court recognized that it was bound by this court's precedent in Copas, the Appellate Court followed the United States Supreme Court decision in Hill and subsequent federal precedent interpreting Hill, and concluded that a habeas petitioner was required to demonstrate only that he would have insisted on proceeding to trial. Because the Appellate Court concluded that the habeas court here applied an incorrect legal standard in assessing the petitioner's claims, the Appellate Court reversed the habeas court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. From that judgment, the respondent, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Held that the respondent's appeal was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the respondent not having been aggrieved by the Appellate Court's decision; although the respondent claimed that the Appellate Court improperly determined that the habeas court had applied an incorrect standard for prejudice because of the respondent's position that the Appellate Court was bound by and should have applied the legal standard set forth in Copas, on appeal to this court, the respondent sought to have the judgment of the Appellate Court affirmed, essentially agreeing with the reasoning and outcome of the Appellate Court's decision but not the route by which that court had reached that decision, and such disagreement was not sufficient to show an injury to any specific personal and legal interest of the respondent so as to establish aggrievement.

Habeas corpus; appeal from denial of petition for habeas corpus; certification from Appellate Court; whether respondent Commissioner of Correction had standing to appeal from decision by Appellate Court reversing habeas court's judgment when commissioner sought to affirm Appellate Court decision; claim that Copas v. Commissioner of Correction (234 Conn. 139, 662 A.2d 718), on which Appellate Court relied, set forth improper standard for determining prejudice and therefore that Appellate Court decision should be affirmed; aggrievement; prejudice standard enunciated in Copas, discussed; dismissal of appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Sarah Hanna, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Brian Preleski, state's attorney, and Jo Anne Sulik, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellant (respondent).

Dante R. Gallucci, assigned counsel, for the appellee (petitioner).

Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa and Robinson, Js. ROGERS, C. J. In this opinion the other justices concurred.

OPINION

ROGERS, C. J.

Page 1154

[317 Conn. 596] This certified appeal raises the question of whether a party is aggrieved and therefore has standing to appeal from a decision that the party is seeking to have affirmed. The Appellate Court reversed the habeas court's denial of relief to the petitioner, Wilton Carraway, after the Appellate Court held that the habeas court had improperly applied the prejudice standard enunciated in Copas v. Commissioner of Correction, 234 Conn. 139, 151, 157, 662 A.2d 718 (1995). Carraway v. Commissioner of Correction, 144 Conn.App. 461, 470-71, 72 A.3d 426 (2013). The respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, claims on appeal that the judgment of the Appellate Court should be affirmed because Copas sets forth an improper standard for determining prejudice. Because we conclude that the respondent is not aggrieved by the judgment of the Appellate Court and because Copas has already been overruled sub silencio in subsequent decisions by this court, we dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The following facts and procedural background are relevant to the respondent's claim on appeal. On March 11, 2008, the petitioner pleaded nolo contendere to a charge of assault in the first degree.[1] Pursuant to a plea agreement, on May 8, 2008, the trial court sentenced the petitioner to fifteen years of incarceration, execution suspended after seven years, and five years of probation.

[317 Conn. 597] On June 3, 2011, the petitioner filed an amended habeas petition alleging that his trial ...


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