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State v. Miller

Appellate Court of Connecticut

March 15, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
JONATHAN MILLER

         Argued January 11, 2016.

          Substitute information charging the defendant with three counts of the crime of breach of the peace in the second degree, and with the crimes of assault in the third degree and criminal mischief in the third degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, geographical area number fourteen, and tried to the jury before Suarez, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty of assault in the third degree and two counts of breach of the peace in the second degree, from which the defendant appealed to this court.

          SYLLABUS

         Convicted of the crimes of assault in the third degree and breach of the peace in the second degree, the defendant appealed to this court. He claimed that the trial court during voir dire violated his right to an impartial jury and a fair trial when it denied his challenge for cause as to an allegedly biased venireperson and, as a result, required him to use a peremptory challenge to excuse that venireperson. The defendant had not used all of his peremptory challenges at the time he exercised the peremptory challenge to excuse the allegedly biased venireperson. Held that the trial court did not deprive the defendant of his right to an impartial jury and a fair trial when it denied his challenge for cause as to an allegedly biased venireperson, the defendant not having exhausted his peremptory challenges when he thereafter exercised a peremptory challenge to excuse that venireperson.

         Robert E. Byron, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

         Matthew R. Kalthoff, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and David M. Carlucci, assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Lavine, Sheldon and Mullins, Js. SHELDON, J. In this opinion the other judges concurred.

          OPINION

Page 106

          [163 Conn.App. 773] SHELDON, J.

          The defendant, Jonathan Miller, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of assault in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-61 (a) (1), and two counts of breach of the peace in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-181 (a) (1) and (2).[1] On appeal, [163 Conn.App. 774] the defendant claims that the court violated his right to a fair trial by denying his challenge for cause as to an allegedly biased venireperson, thereby necessitating his use of a peremptory challenge to excuse that venireperson. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following factual and procedural history is relevant to the defendant's claim on appeal. On August 31, 2012, the defendant appeared in family court in Hartford to defend himself against allegations that he had failed to pay child support to Angela Cox, the mother of his son. Upon leaving the courthouse after the hearing, the defendant was involved in an altercation with the father of Cox' daughter. As a result of that incident, the defendant was charged with one count of assault in the third degree, three counts of breach of the peace in the second degree and one count of criminal mischief in the third degree.

         Jury selection in this case began on May 7, 2014. The parties selected the six regular jurors on that day. On the next day, the parties commenced voir dire to select the requisite two alternate jurors. Upon questioning venireperson R.D.,[2] it was disclosed that his mother recently had been the victim of a burglary. R.D. indicated that he did not have a problem with his interaction with police officers regarding that crime, and, when asked whether he would tend to find the testimony of police officers more or less credible than that of other witnesses, he responded, " I would say possibly more credible. I don't know. I don't know if I would be biased or not." He acknowledged that he would have to wait to hear what the officers had to say and that his judgment of their testimony would depend on the circumstances. When defense counsel later asked R.D. [163 Conn.App. 775] whether he would " give more consideration to the police officer's [testimony] because he's an officer," R.D. replied, " It's possible that I would." Defense counsel

Page 107

then asked R.D. if he would have a problem finding the defendant not guilty if the state failed to prove its case but the defendant did not testify or present any evidence of his own. R.D. responded, " Well, that he would not say anything would not be a factor. Possibly if there was no ...


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