September 15, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk,
geographical area number twenty, Wenzel, J.
Whitnum-Baker, self-represented, the appellant (defendant).
L. Walker, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom,
on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state's attorney,
Jacob L. McChesney, former special deputy assistant
state's attorney, and John R. Whalen, supervisory
assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).
Sheldon and Gruendel, Js.
defendant, Lisa Whitnum-Baker, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered after a trial to the court, of creating
a public disturbance in violation of General Statutes §
53a-181a. On appeal, the defendant claims that there was
insufficient evidence to convict her of creating a public
disturbance. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
court reasonably could have found the following facts. On
April 24, 2014, the defendant entered the Stamford Courthouse
Law Library. After an argument ensued between the defendant
and another library patron, the librarian requested
assistance from a state marshal, Patrick Valcourt, who was
posted in the hallway immediately outside of the library.
Valcourt entered the library, observed the defendant arguing
loudly, and instructed her to stay away from the other
patron. Because the defendant was uncooperative, Valcourt,
with other marshals then present, began to escort her out of
the library. While being escorted, the defendant began
yelling loudly and attempted to bite Valcourt's arm. The
supervising marshal who observed the attempted bite then
ordered that the defendant be handcuffed and detained. Once
the defendant was properly restrained, the marshals escorted
her out of the library to the detention area, where she was
held until she was arrested by state police on the charge of
breach of the peace in the second degree, in violation of
General Statutes § 53a-181. The state later filed a
substitute information charging the defendant with creating a
public disturbance in violation of § 53a-181a.
appeal, the defendant claims that there was insufficient
evidence to support her conviction for creating a public
disturbance in violation of § 53a-181a (a) because the
state failed to prove all essential elements of the crime
beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the defendant
contends that the trial court erred by not crediting her
testimony about the events leading up to her arrest, which,
she asserts, disproves the state's
evidence. We disagree.
first set forth our standard of review and the relevant law.
‘‘The appellate standard of review of sufficiency
of the evidence claims is well established. In reviewing a
sufficiency [of the evidence] claim, we apply a two part
test. First, we construe the evidence in the light most
favorable to sustaining the verdict. Second, we determine
whether upon the facts so construed and the inferences
reasonably drawn therefrom the jury reasonably could have
concluded that the cumulative force of the evidence
established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. . . .
evidence must be construed in a light most favorable to
sustaining the [court's] verdict. . . . Our review is a
fact based inquiry limited to determining whether the
inferences drawn by the [fact finder] are so unreasonable as
to be unjustifiable. . . . [T]he inquiry into whether the
record evidence would support a finding of guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt does not require a court to ask itself
whether it believes that the evidence . . . established guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . Instead, the relevant
question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact
could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a
reasonable doubt. . . .
do not sit as a [seventh] juror who may cast a vote against
the verdict based upon our feeling that some doubt of guilt
is shown by the cold printed record. We have not had the
[fact finder's] opportunity to observe the conduct,
demeanor, and attitude of the witnesses and to gauge their
credibility. . . . We are content to rely on the [fact
finder's] good sense and judgment.'' (Internal
quotation marks omitted.) State v. Serrano, 91
Conn.App. 227, 241-42, 880 A.2d 183, cert. denied, 276 Conn.
908, 884 A.2d 1029 (2005).
Statutes § 53a-181a (a) provides: ‘‘A person
is guilty of creating a public disturbance when, with intent
to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly
creating a risk thereof, he (1) engages in fighting or in
violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior, or (2) annoys or
interferes with another person by offensive conduct; or (3)
makes unreasonable noise.''
is defined as ‘characterized by extreme force' and
‘furious or vehement to the point of being improper,
unjust, or illegal.' . . . ‘Threatening' is
defined as a ‘promise [of] punishment' or,
‘to give signs of the approach of (something evil or
unpleasant).' . . . When two or more words are grouped
together, it is possible to ascertain the meaning of a
particular word by reference to its relationship with other
associated words and phrases under the doctrine of noscitur a
sociis. . . . Placed within the context of the other words in
the statute, the word ‘threatening' takes on a more
ominous tone. The statute proscribes ‘engaging in
fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening
behavior.' . . . [T]he language of subdivision (1) . . .
‘violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior, '
evinces a legislative ...