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Mincewicz v. Comm'r of Correction

Appellate Court of Connecticut

December 29, 2015

JOSEPH MINCEWICZ
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

Argued September 22, 2015.

Page 792

Amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland, where the court, Cobb, J., granted the respondent's motion for summary judgment as to the second count of the petition; thereafter, the matter was tried to the court, Sferrazza, J.; judgment denying the petition, from which the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court.

SYLLABUS

The petitioner, who had been convicted of various crimes following a guilty plea, sought a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that his trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance by failing to adequately develop and pursue an insanity defense and by recommending that he accept a plea deal. He claimed that counsel's deficient performance had contributed to his decision to enter the guilty plea, thereby rendering the plea invalid. After a hearing, the habeas court rendered judgment denying the petition, concluding that the petitioner had waived his ineffective assistance of counsel claim by entering a valid guilty plea. The habeas court thereafter granted certification to appeal, and the petitioner appealed to this court. Held that the petitioner could not prevail on his claim that the habeas court improperly determined that he waived his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel by pleading guilty, the petitioner having failed to show that any alleged ineffective assistance regarding his insanity defense rendered his guilty plea invalid: the alleged deficient performance occurred prior to the plea hearing and was not so intertwined with the subsequent guilty plea as to render the plea invalid, and it is well settled that a guilty plea waives any nonjurisdictional defects that occur prior to the entry of a guilty plea as long as the plea was voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently made, as the habeas court found in the petitioner's case; moreover, the petitioner provided no evidence that he had relied on trial counsel's advice when deciding whether to enter a guilty plea, and he specifically testified that he had pleaded guilty for reasons unrelated to the possible success or failure of his insanity defense.

Mary H. Trainer, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

Nancy L. Walker, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's attorney, and Eva B. Lenczewski, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

Beach, Alvord and Mullins, Js. BEACH, J. In this opinion the other judges concurred.

OPINION

Page 793

BEACH, J.

[162 Conn.App. 110] The petitioner, Joseph Mincewicz, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In this appeal, the petitioner claims that the court, Sferrazza, J., erred when it found that he had waived his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. We disagree and therefore affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

The following facts and procedural history are relevant to the disposition of the petitioner's appeal. The petitioner pleaded guilty on August 12, 2008, to three crimes: (1) robbery in the first degree, (2) possession of narcotics, and (3) attempt to commit larceny in the [162 Conn.App. 111] fourth degree. In accordance with the plea bargain, the trial court, Fasano, J., sentenced the petitioner to nine years of incarceration followed by ten years of special parole.

The amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at the plea hearing, judicial error,[1] and prosecutorial misconduct.[2] Following a hearing, the court denied the petition in a written decision. As to the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the court found that the petitioner waived any claim[3] of deficient representation by his trial counsel, including her failure to pursue an insanity defense on the petitioner's behalf by entering a valid guilty plea. This appeal followed the habeas court's grant of certification to appeal.

The petitioner contends that the court erred when it found that he waived his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel arising from counsel's failure to inquire adequately and to develop evidence regarding the petitioner's mental state at the time of the offenses. The petitioner essentially argues that counsel's ineffective assistance contributed to his decision to plead guilty, and, as such, his ...


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