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State v. Walker

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Middlesex, Middletown, Geographic Area 9

May 23, 2016

State of Connecticut
v.
Robert Walker Opinion No. 133775

          Judge (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Vitale, Elpedio N., J.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE DEFENDANT'S AMENDED MOTION TO CORRECT SENTENCE

          ELPEDIO VITALE, JUDGE

         Following the defendant's convictions after a joint trial on the above captioned matters, the court (Clifford, J.), on April 27, 2001, imposed a total effective sentence of 50 years, suspended after serving 32 years, and 20 years of probation for two counts of aggravated sexual assault in the first degree, four counts of sexual assault in the first degree, two counts of kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm, four counts of kidnapping in the first degree, threatening, criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of credit card theft, three counts of fraudulent use of an automatic teller machine, two counts of illegal use of a credit card, two counts of failure to appear in the first degree, and one count of larceny in the sixth degree.

         The defendant's convictions were affirmed on appeal. State v. Walker, 80 Conn.App. 542, (2003); cert. denied, 268 Conn. 902 (2004).

         Fifteen (15) years after his sentencing, the defendant now moves pursuant to P.B. § 43-22 to " correct his illegal sentence, " claiming first that the trial court " did not specifically canvass [the defendant] or his counsel as to whether [the defendant] had an opportunity to review the presentence report or the supplemental materials provided by the State, and whether the information was controverted or needed to be explained, " and second, that " information referenced in his presentence report and in the supplemental materials concerning his 1991 conviction of robbery and sexual assault was inaccurate and prejudicial" and was improperly relied upon by the sentencing court. The State objects to the motion, and argues that the instant motion should be dismissed for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The State submitted a memorandum of law in support of its motion to dismiss.

         The Court has reviewed a seventy-six (76) page transcript of the sentencing proceeding that occurred before Judge Clifford on April 27, 2001.

         Discussion

         " The Superior Court is a constitutional court of general jurisdiction . . . In the absence of statutory or constitutional provisions, the limits of its jurisdiction are delineated by the common law." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Lawrence, 281 Conn. 147, 153, 913 A.2d 428 (2007). Under the common law, a trial court's jurisdiction over a criminal case terminates once the defendant has begun serving his or her sentence. State v. Ramos, 306 Conn. 125, 134, 49 A.3d 197 (2012); State v. Reid, 277 Conn. 764, 775, 894 A.2d 963 (2006). An exception to this general principle exists, however, that permits a trial court to retain jurisdiction to correct an illegal sentence. State v. Parker, 295 Conn. 825, 836, 922 A.2d, 1103 (2010); State v. Daniels, 207 Conn. 374, 387, 542 A.2d 306, after remand for articulation, 209 Conn. 225, 550 A.2d 885 (1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1069, 109 S.Ct. 1349, 103 L.Ed.2d 817 (1989).

         This exception is recognized in Practice Book § 43-22, which provides that " [t]he judicial authority may at any time correct an illegal sentence or other illegal disposition, or it may correct a sentence imposed in an illegal manner or any other disposition made in an illegal manner."

         " [A]n illegal sentence is essentially one which either exceeds the relevant statutory maximum limits, violates a defendant's right against double jeopardy, is ambiguous, or is internally contradictory. By contrast . . . [s]entences imposed in an illegal manner have been defined as being within the relevant statutory limits but . . . imposed in a way which violates [a] defendant's right . . . to be addressed personally at sentencing and to speak in mitigation of punishment . . . or his right to be sentenced by a judge relying on accurate information or considerations solely in the record, or his right that the government keep its plea agreement promises . . ." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Smith, 150 Conn.App. 623, 635, 92 A.3d 975, cert. denied, 314 Conn. 904, 99 A.3d 1169 (2014). These definitions are not exhaustive, however, and " the parameters of an invalid sentence will evolve"; State v. Parker, supra, 295 Conn. 840; as additional rights and procedures affecting sentencing are subsequently recognized under state and federal law.

         Thus, to invoke the jurisdiction of a trial court to correct an illegal sentence, a defendant must allege that his or her sentence is illegal, or has been illegally imposed, for one of the reasons recognized under our common law. See State v. Lawrence, supra, 281 Conn. 155 (" for the trial court to have jurisdiction to consider the defendant's claim of an illegal sentence, the claim must fall into one of the categories of claims that, under the common law, the court has jurisdiction to review").

         " Connecticut courts have considered four categories of claims pursuant to § 43-22. The first category has addressed whether the sentence was within the permissible range for the crimes charged . . . The second category has considered violations of the prohibition against double jeopardy . . . The Third category has involved claims pertaining to the computation of the length of the sentence and the question of consecutive or concurrent prison time . . . The fourth category has involved questions as to which sentencing statute was applicable." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Lawrence, supra, 281 Conn. 156-57. " [I]f a defendant's claim falls within one of these four categories the trial court has jurisdiction to modify a sentence after it has commenced . . . If the claim is not within one of these categories, then the court must dismiss the claim for a lack of jurisdiction and not consider its merits." (Citation omitted.) State v. Koslik, 116 Conn.App. 693, 698-99 (2009), cert. denied, 293 Conn. 930 (2009).

         Initially, the question is thus whether the defendant has satisfied a recognized jurisdictional threshold in order to permit the court to consider his claims.

         The defendant's first claim is that " in contravention of P.B. § 43-10, " the sentencing court did not specifically canvass him, or his counsel, as to whether the defendant had an opportunity to ...


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