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Gooden v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

November 15, 2016

ERIC GOODEN
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Submitted on briefs September 19, 2016

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Fuger, J.

          Walter C. Bansley IV and Judie Marshall filed a brief for the appellant (petitioner).

          James A. Killen, senior assistant state's attorney, Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and Randall Bowers, former special deputy assistant state's attorney, filed a brief for the appellee (respondent).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Prescott and Gruendel, Js.

          OPINION

          DiPENTIMA, C. J.

         The petitioner, Eric Gooden, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the court improperly concluded that his trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance at his sentencing. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

         The following facts and procedural history are necessary for our discussion. On April 3, 2007, the petitioner was arrested and charged in the Superior Court at Manchester in docket number H12M-CR-07-0210233-T. He was incarcerated in lieu of bond while awaiting the resolution of these charges from Manchester. While in pretrial custody, he was arrested on January 15, 2008, 286 days later, and charged in the judicial district of Tolland in docket number TTD-CR-08-0091161-T.

         On November 21, 2008, the petitioner appeared in Tolland before the court, Hon. Terrance A. Sullivan, judge trial referee, to plead guilty to burglary in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-101 and conspiracy to commit burglary in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 and 53a-101 in docket number TTD-CR-08-0091161-T. After setting forth the factual bases for these crimes, the prosecutor stated: ‘‘The agreement in the case is for a sentence of ten years to serve plus five years special parole. The agreement also incorporates a pending commercial burglary that the [petitioner] has in Manchester. [There] is the understanding-both parties I believe-that the [petitioner] will plead to that case and that that case will be transferred here for sentencing and he will receive a concurrent sentence on that.'' Leslie Cunningham, the petitioner's attorney in docket number TTD-CR-08-0091161-T, noted her agreement with the prosecutor's statement of the plea, subject to one caveat. ‘‘There- there's a possible jail credit issue, and what we contemplated was a total effective sentence of ten [years] to serve, five [years] special parole, so we may adjust one or the other to reflect the ten year sentence.'' Cunningham explained that the petitioner had been arrested first for the crimes charged in Manchester, and therefore the sentence imposed would need to be adjusted for the petitioner to serve a total of ten years incarceration after receiving credit for all of his pretrial incarceration from April 4, 2007, the date which he first entered the custody of the Department of Correction.

         Judge Sullivan immediately noted his concern with the jail credit issue. ‘‘Before we go too far on this, that- if you haven't got that straightened out now, then I'm not sure why he's pleading now. If the agreement is the sentence is going to be ten years plus five special parole, that's the sentence I'm going to impose . . . ten years in prison plus five years special parole. I'm not going to impose a sentence of nine years and eight months and twenty-six days and plus five years of special parole. So if the agreement-I-when we discussed this matter, I thought the agreement-and in fact, I thought it was my offer that I made which was ten, ten [years] plus five special parole.'' Cunningham mentioned that there had been an off-the-record discussion regarding whether the petitioner's sentence could be structured ‘‘so [that] it reflects the ten years.'' The court iterated that it would impose a sentence of ten years incarceration and five years of special parole and indicated that it did ‘‘not want you to come back sometime next month and say, well, I know that the plea agreement is ten plus five special parole, but, Judge, we, that's what we want him to-we want him to get extra credit or some credit for this so you can't really give him ten plus five special parole.'' Cunningham then asked for and received an opportunity to discuss the matter with the petitioner while the court turned to other matters.

         After returning to the petitioner's case, and being told by Cunningham that the matter was ready to proceed, the court conducted a plea canvass of the petitioner. It explained the sentence that would be imposed: ‘‘The plea agreement is that, at the time of sentencing on these charges, I'm going to impose a sentence of ten years imprisonment, followed by five years of special parole. And it's also my understanding that [docket number H12M-CR-07-0210233-T] is going to be sent over here and you're going to be sentenced on that at the same time, and that sentence from [docket number H12M-CR-07-0210233-T] will be incorporated into this sentence. But the sentence that I'm going to impose for both of them combined out of that, out of that proceeding, is going to be ten years of imprisonment plus five years of special parole.'' (Emphasis added.) After the petitioner indicated that he understood the sentence, the court accepted the plea and found the petitioner guilty of burglary in the first degree and conspiracy to commit burglary in the first degree.

         On December 8, 2008, the petitioner appeared before Judge Ward in Manchester, to plead guilty, pursuant to the Alford doctrine, to larceny in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-122 and burglary in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-103 in docket number H12M-CR-07-0210233-T.[1] The prosecutor set forth the facts underlying these charges, and noted that the plea called for a sentence of five years incarceration to run concurrent with the sentence imposed in docket number TTD-CR-08-0091161-T. The court accepted the petitioner's Alford plea and found him guilty of larceny in the first degree and burglary in the third degree.

         On December 12, 2008, the petitioner appeared before Judge Sullivan for sentencing in both docket numbers. At this proceeding, the court sentenced the petitioner in accordance with his plea agreements. It imposed a total effective sentence of ten years incarceration and five years special parole. The petitioner expressly agreed that the sentence was consistent with the plea agreements that he had made.

         In March, 2012, the petitioner, acting pro se, commenced the present action. He alleged that he had received 332 days of credit for his presentence incarceration from January 15, 2008 to December 12, 2008, but claimed that he should have received 618 days, the time period from April 4, 2007 to December 12, 2008. The petitioner filed an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, dated August 21, 2012, again ...


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