September 8, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Young, J.
Hanson, self-represented, with whom, on the brief, was Norman
A. Pattis, for the appellant (petitioner).
Timothy F. Costello, assistant state's attorney, with
whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney,
Angela R. Macchiarulo, senior assistant state's attorney,
and Tamara A. Grosso, assistant state's attorney, for the
Mullins and Bishop, Js.
petitioner, Kweku Hanson, appeals from the judgment of the
habeas court denying his petition for certification to appeal
from the court's denial of his habeas corpus petition.
Specifically, the petitioner claims that the habeas court
abused its discretion in denying his petition for
certification to appeal and erred in concluding that (1)
Attorney Salvatore Bonanno did not represent the petitioner
in the underlying criminal proceedings and therefore could
not be the focus of an ineffective assistance of counsel
claim; (2) Attorney Donald Freeman's representation of
the petitioner was not ineffective; and (3) Assistant
State's Attorney Thomas O'Brien's prosecution of
the petitioner's cases in the criminal proceedings was
not improper. We disagree with the petitioner and dismiss the
record reveals the following relevant factual and procedural
history. The petitioner, an attorney who had practiced law
for more than eighteen years, was arrested on four separate
occasions on a number of charges arising from allegations
that he had sexual relations with two minors, videotaped
himself having sexual intercourse with one victim, took
sexually provocative pictures of both victims, and later
threatened those victims in an effort to dissuade them from
cooperating in the prosecution of his cases. He was first
arrested on September 23, 2005, and subsequently arrested on
January 11, 2006, March 1, 2007, and April 4, 2007.
August 2, 2007, while self-represented, the petitioner
pleaded guilty on a substitute information to the following
counts: two counts of sexual assault in the second degree in
violation of General Statutes § 53a-71 (a) (1); two
counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General
Statutes § 53-21 (a) (2); two counts of tampering with a
witness in violation of General Statutes § 53a-151; and
one count of possession of child pornography in the first
degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-196 (d).
The court, White, J., continued the case for
sentencing, and, during that time, the petitioner
unsuccessfully tried to withdraw his guilty pleas.
November 2, 2007, pursuant to the petitioner's August 2
pleas, the court, Koletsky, J., imposed upon the
petitioner a total effective sentence of twenty-five years of
incarceration, execution suspended after six years, and
thirty years of probation. The petitioner directly appealed
the court's judgments of conviction, which this court
affirmed. State v. Hanson, 117 Conn.App. 436, 979
A.2d 576 (2009), cert. denied, 295 Conn. 907, 989 A.2d 604,
cert. denied, 562 U.S. 986, 131 S.Ct. 425, 178 L.Ed.2d 331
the self-represented petitioner instituted this habeas action
and, on March 4, 2013, filed his second amended petition for
a writ of habeas corpus. In his petition, the petitioner
alleged, inter alia, ineffective assistance of counsel as to
Bonanno and Freeman and prosecutorial vindictiveness as to
O'Brien. Following a five day trial, the habeas
court, Young, J., denied the petition in a written
memorandum of decision. The petitioner then filed a petition
for certification to appeal from the habeas court's
denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which the
habeas court denied. This appeal followed. Additional factual
and procedural history will be set forth as necessary.
begin by setting forth our general standard of review.
‘‘Faced with the habeas court's denial of
certification to appeal, a petitioner's first burden is
to demonstrate that the habeas court's ruling constituted
an abuse of discretion.'' Simms v. Warden,
230 Conn. 608, 612, 646 A.2d 126 (1994). In order to prove an
abuse of discretion, the petitioner must show
‘‘that the issues are debatable among jurists of
reason; that the court could resolve the issues [in
a different manner]; or that the questions are adequate to
deserve encouragement to proceed further.'' (Emphasis
in original; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id.,
616. ‘‘If the petitioner succeeds in surmounting
that hurdle, the petitioner must then demonstrate that the
judgment of the habeas court should be reversed on its
merits.'' Id., 612.
underlying historical facts found by the habeas court may not
be disturbed unless the findings were clearly erroneous. . .
. Questions of law and mixed questions of law and fact
receive plenary review.'' (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) Crawford v. Commissioner of Correction,
294 Conn. 165, 174, 982 A.2d 620 (2009).
extent that the habeas court relies on credibility
determinations of witnesses in deciding the issues, this
court must defer to the trier of fact's assessment of the
credibility of the witness that is ‘‘made on the
basis of its firsthand observations of their conduct,
demeanor and attitude.'' (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) Lapointe v. Commissioner of Correction,
316 Conn. 225, 268, 112 A.3d 1 (2015). We turn now to the
petitioner's specific claims.
petitioner's first claim on appeal is that the habeas
court abused its discretion when it denied his petition for
certification to appeal from the court's dismissal of his
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel as to Bonanno. The
habeas court dismissed the claim after determining that
Bonanno was not acting as the petitioner's counsel, and,
therefore, could not properly be the focus of a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel. The respondent, the
Commissioner of Correction, argues that the habeas court
correctly concluded that the petitioner failed to show that
Bonanno was acting as his counsel in the underlying criminal
proceedings. We agree with the respondent.
following additional facts are relevant to our resolution of
this claim. On March 16, 2007, Bonanno was present in court
on the petitioner's behalf without having filed an
appearance. There, he told the court, Prescott, J.,
that he was in discussions with the petitioner's family
about being retained, and he asked for a short continuance.
When Bonanno returned to court on March 19, 2007, he informed
the court, Prescott, J., that he would not be filing
an appearance on the petitioner's behalf, as he could not
work out payment arrangements with the petitioner's
family. The record reveals that, at this juncture, Bonanno
had been paid $15, 000 by the petitioner's family, an
amount less than he would require if the petitioner's
three files were tried separately, which is how he believed
the state would proceed. Bonanno subsequently returned the
$15, 000 to the petitioner's family. As Bonanno was
leaving the courtroom, the petitioner stated that he was
interested in discussing a plea deal that day. The court
asked Bonanno if he would be willing, even though he had not
been retained, to discuss the petitioner's matters with
the court, Gold, J., and O'Brien ...