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Dyous v. Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Supreme Court of Connecticut

December 22, 2016

ANTHONY DYOUS
v.
COMMISSIONEROF MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION SERVICES

          Argued September 14, 2016

          David J. Reich, for the appellant (petitioner).

          James A. Killen, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Peter A. McShane, state's attorney, and Jo Anne Sulik, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa and Robinson, Js.

          OPINION

          ROBINSON, J.

         The petitioner, Anthony Dyous, appeals[1] from the judgment of the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, in which he sought immediate release from the custody of the respondent, Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services. On appeal, the petitioner contends, inter alia, that the habeas court improperly determined that: (1) in Duperry v. Solnit, 261 Conn. 309, 803 A.2d 287 (2002), this court considered the issue of whether a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect must be knowing and voluntary and, further, that Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989), bars this claim for habeas relief; and (2) his criminal trial attorney rendered effective assistance of counsel by failing to research the law surrounding the defense of mental disease or defect and failing toinform the petitioner of the court's authority to extend his commitment beyond the maximum twenty-five year sentence. We disagree with the petitioner's claims and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

         The record reveals the following relevant facts and procedural history. In December, 1983, the petitioner hijacked a bus carrying forty-seven people by stating that he was armed with a bomb and nerve gas. Once on the bus, the petitioner ordered the bus driver to drive to a bank. After moving some of the passengers from the bus into the bank, the petitioner held them hostage. He then contacted the state police to demand that he speak with a news reporter so that he could be interviewed regarding a perceived threat to national security. The petitioner then allowed the passengers to leave the bank unharmed, and police officers entered the bank and arrested him without further incident.

         The state charged the petitioner with two counts of kidnapping in the first degree in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1983) § 53a-92 (a) (1), two counts of threatening in the second degree in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1983) § 53a-62 (a) (1), and one count of carrying a dangerous weapon in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1983) § 53-206 (a). The petitioner, represented by counsel, pleaded not guilty to all charges. He then filed a notice of his intention to assert a defense of mental disease or defect. The petitioner was tried before the court on November 2, 1984, in a nonadversarial proceeding during which neither party challenged the other's case. After the proceeding, the court rendered a judgment that acquitted the petitioner of all offenses on the basis of mental disease or defect and committed the petitioner to the custody of the respondent for a period not to exceed twenty-five years. The respondent later transferred custody of the petitioner to the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board (board) in accordance with General Statutes § 17a-602.

         Since his initial confinement, despite multiple unsuccessful challenges, the petitioner has remained committed to the custody of the board for more than twenty-five years.[2] To challenge his extended confinement, the petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus. Following the appointment of habeas counsel, the petitioner filed a revised amended petition, through which he raised two claims relevant to this appeal: (1) his pursuit of a defense based on mental disease or defect was not knowing and voluntary, in violation of his due process rights, because he believed that he could not be confined involuntarily beyond a maximum period of twenty-five years; and (2) trial defense counsel was ineffective by failing to research the law and advise the petitioner that he could be confined involuntarily for more than twenty-five years in the event he was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.[3]

         The habeas court denied the petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In its thoughtful and comprehensive memorandum of decision, the court concluded that: (1) the petitioner's claim that his plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect was not knowing and voluntary was barred by Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 261 Conn. 309, and in any event was barred procedurally by Teague v. Lane, supra, 489 U.S. 288; and (2) the petitioner failed to prove that his criminal trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective under either of the deficient performance or prejudice prongs of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).[4] The petitioner filed a petition for certification to appeal, which the habeas court granted. This appeal followed. Additional facts and procedural history will be set forth as necessary.

         I

         We begin with the petitioner's assertion that the habeas court incorrectly determined that Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 261 Conn. 309, and Teague v. Lane, supra, 489 U.S. 288, precluded his claim that his plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect was not knowing and voluntary. This claim presents a question of law over which our review is plenary. See, e.g., Washington v. Commissioner of Correction, 287 Conn. 792, 799-800, 950 A.2d 1220 (2008).

         A

         Because they set the legal stage for the petitioner's claim, we review Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 261 Conn. 309, and the federal district court's decision in Duperry v. Kirk, 563 F.Supp.2d 370 (D. Conn. 2008), which involve the same petitioner, Adam Duperry, and arise from the same underlying set of facts. In Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 311, this court considered whether the habeas court ‘‘improperly established a new constitutional rule in a collateral proceeding in contravention of the principle announced in Teague v. Lane, [supra, 489 U.S. 288], by concluding that a criminal defendant who pleads not guilty with the affirmative defense of mental disease or defect must be canvassed as though he is pleading guilty to ensure that his plea is made knowingly and voluntarily . . . .''[5] (Footnote omitted.) We engaged in a Teague analysis of whether the canvass issue was procedurally barred and ultimately held, ‘‘with respect to the plea canvass, that the habeas court improperly declared and applied a new constitutional rule in contravention of the principle enunciated in Teague.''[6] Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 312. Thus, we reversed the habeas court's judgment, which originally had granted Duperry's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Id.

         Duperry subsequently filed a habeas petition in federal court to challenge his confinement. Duperry v. Kirk, supra, 563 F.Supp.2d 370. In Kirk, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut considered whether Duperry's claim that his plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily and his canvass claim were doctrinally separate and distinct. See Id., 382-83. The court separated the two counts in Duperry's federal petition and determined that each was based on a unique ground. Id., 383-84. The court observed that, ‘‘[t]he canvass rule helps ensure that a plea is knowing, voluntary and intelligent, but the requirement that plea be knowing, voluntary and intelligent represents an independent constitutional imperative, regardless whether the specific canvass rule is required.'' (Emphasis in original.) Id., 384. After determining that Duperry had raised two separate claims in his petition, the federal court analyzed whether this court had reached and decided the merits of both claims in Solnit, in order to determine whether the federal court owed deference to this court's adjudication of Duperry's claims. Id.

         The federal court analyzed, in great depth, footnote 7 in this court's opinion in Solnit, which stated: ‘‘In light of our conclusion, we do not address whether the substance of the habeas court's holding was proper, i.e., whether the principle of Boykin v. Alabama, [395 U.S. 238');">395 U.S. 238, 242-44, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969)], that due process requires a plea of guilty to be knowing and voluntary, applies equally to a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.'' Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 261 Conn. 326 n.7. The federal court read this footnote to mean that we ‘‘expressly declined to decide that issue.'' Duperry v. Kirk, supra, 563 F.Supp.2d 383. Thus, it held that, with respect to Duperry's claim regarding the knowing and voluntary nature of his plea, it owed no deference to this court's prior decision and noting that, ‘‘[b]ecause [Solnit] did not reach the merits of the [claim regarding Duperry's plea] the de novo standard of review applie[d].'' Id., 384.

         In the present appeal, the petitioner claims that the federal court's interpretation of Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 261 Conn. 309, in Duperry v. Kirk, supra, 563 F.Supp.2d 383, controls. He contends that the habeas court improperly analyzed footnote 7 in Solnit and, instead, advocates in support of the reasoning in Kirk that this court failed to address the claim regarding Duperry's plea in Solnit. See Duperry v. Kirk, supra, 383. In response, the respondent claims that the habeas court properly concluded that the claim regarding the knowing and voluntary nature of Duperry's plea is precluded by Solnit, as this court considered both the claim regarding Duperry's plea and his canvass claim. The respondent further contends that the federal court's decision in Kirk is a misinterpretation of state law.

         Regardless of whether this court considered the claim regarding Duperry's plea in Solnit, the petitioner's claim in the present case still fails. Assuming, without deciding, that the federal district court correctly determined in Kirk that this court did not consider the claim regarding Duperry's plea; see Duperry v. Solnit, supra, 261 Conn. 326 n.7; the claim regarding the knowing and voluntary nature of the petitioner's plea in the present appeal nevertheless is barred by Teague v. Lane, supra, 489 U.S. 288.

         B

         With respect to Teague v.Lane, supra, 489 U.S. 288, the petitioner claims that the habeas court improperly determined that the claim regarding the knowing and voluntary nature of his plea was barred because that claim did not require the habeas court to establish a new constitutional rule of criminal procedure in a collateral proceeding. He relies on Boykin v.Alabama, supra, 395 U.S. 238, which held that guilty pleas must be knowing and voluntary to comport with the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment to the United States constitution. Relying on Duperry v.Kirk, supra, 563 F.Supp.2d 385-86, the petitioner claims that the Boykin principle extends to defenses based on mental disease or defect. Thus, the petitioner contends that it was well established at the time of his plea that the election to pursue an affirmative defense of mental disease or defect, like a decision to plead guilty, had to be knowing and voluntary. The petitioner asserts that, because this rule was well established at the time he entered his plea, the habeas court would not have needed to establish a new constitutional rule of criminal procedure to grant relief on his claim. The petitioner asserts, rather, that the habeas court need only apply Boykin to the facts of the present case. Further, the petitioner claims that, even if the relief he sought required the habeas court to establish a new procedural rule, that rule falls ...


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