January 17, 2017
STATE OF CONNECTICUT
November 9, 2016
Michael S. Taylor, assigned counsel, with whom were Matthew
C. Eagan, assigned counsel, and, on the brief, James P.
Sexton, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).
Hanna, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the
brief, were Matthew C. Gedansky, state's attorney, and
Elizabeth C. Leaming, senior assistant state's attorney,
for the appellee (state).
Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa and
ROGERS, C. J.
case, we are asked to decide whether the trial court
improperly excluded evidence of the
victim's prior sexual assault allegation and the
subsequent investigation when it was offered by the
defendant, Edward Lester, to show the victim's lack of
credibility and an alternative source of the victim's
advanced sexual knowledge. The defendant was charged with two
counts of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of
General Statutes § 53a-70 (a) (2), three counts of
sexual assault in the fourth degree in violation of General
Statutes § 53a-73a (a) (1) (a), and one count of risk of
injury to a child in violation of General Statutes §
53-21 (a) (2), based on allegations that on multiple
occasions he sexually assaulted his girlfriend's
daughter, who was eight years old at the time of the alleged
conduct. During the course of the trial, the trial court
granted the state's motion in limine to exclude evidence
of the victim's prior sexual conduct, including a prior
allegation of sexual abuse made by the victim, when she was
five years old, against her father's then wife. The jury
found the defendant guilty on all counts and the trial court
thereafter rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict.
See footnote 3 of this opinion. The defendant appeals to this
court, claiming that the trial court improperly excluded
evidence of the prior allegation and subsequent
investigation. We dismiss the defendant's appeal as moot
because the defendant has not challenged all of the trial
court's bases for its evidentiary ruling.
jury reasonably could have found the following facts. During
the victim's third grade school year, the victim lived
with her father, stepmother, stepbrother and stepsister. The
victim would visit with her mother on the weekends and on
days when she was not in school. At that time, the
victim's mother was living in an apartment with the
defendant, who was her boyfriend. On six occasions when the
victim was visiting her mother, while her mother was in the
shower or otherwise not present, the defendant sexually
assaulted the victim.
following additional facts and procedural history, found in
the record, are relevant to this appeal. Prior to trial, the
state filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of any
alleged sexual abuse of the victim by third parties pursuant
to General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 54-86f
(rape shield statute). The state filed this motion because
the defendant's investigator had authored reports
indicating that the victim may have been sexually assaulted
by individuals other than the defendant.
trial, the defendant's theory of the case was that the
victim had made a false allegation against him because she
was unhappy that her mother was pregnant with the
defendant's child and the victim disliked the defendant
because he was black. In furtherance of this theory, the
defendant sought to elicit testimony that when the victim was
five years old, she had made a false allegation of
inappropriate touching against her father's then wife.
The defendant claimed that this false allegation was relevant
to the victim's credibility. He further claimed that the
investigation of the previous false allegation was an
independent source of advanced sexual knowledge for the
state opposed admission of the evidence on the grounds that:
(1) the defendant had not established that the prior
allegation was false in order to allow the evidence to be
admitted under the rape shield statute; (2) the evidence was
inadmissible under § 6-6 (b) (2) of the Connecticut Code
of Evidence, which prohibits the use of extrinsic evidence to
attack a witness' credibility; (3) the prior allegation
was too remote in time; and (4) it would create a collateral
issue because the evidence of the prior allegation was too
an evidentiary hearing, the trial court orally granted the
state's motion in limine to exclude evidence of the
victim's prior sexual conduct stating:
‘‘I'm going to grant the state's motion
[in limine], and I'm going to tell you why. There is a
strange tension between the fourth subsection of the rape
shield [statute] and the [Connecticut Code of Evidence] as
well as the common law of evidence. It is almost ironic that
the rape shield [statute] is cited in an attempt to get in
evidence that is otherwise inadmissible . . . . Now, among
the court's reasons for granting the state's motion
in limine are, number one, the defense has not provided, was
unable to provide credible evidence that [the victim's]
complaint about her [father's former wife] was not true.
. . . The complaint was remote-five years ago . . . and that
five years, by the way, is one-half of her total life. . . .
[T]here is a particular difference with a child. We assume
that adult sexual assault victims have certain knowledge that
we assume that five year olds don't have.
some of the cases rely on previous assaults on children to
establish their basis of knowledge. Here what [the victim]
complained of was simply bad touch against [her father's
former wife]. . . . That knowledge is really very, very basic
and would not have given [the victim] a clue really as to the
acts allegedly perpetrated on her by the defendant, which
were of a different degree, a different degree of severity, a
different degree of penetration, different body parts used by
the defendant that's alleged, and would not have
provided- whether it happened or [the victim] was merely
reciting something that schoolchildren are taught about good
touch/bad touch, what makes you feel sad, pales in
significance with what the defendant has alleged to have done
here, and would not have provided an adequate basis of
knowledge for [the victim] at age eight to make these very
finally, should the court allow this evidence in, there would
be an opportunity for confusion of the jury, and there would
be most likely a minimum of eight witnesses, which would be
not only a trial within a trial, it would be a second trial.
. . . [T]herefore, for all the aforementioned reasons, the
state's motion is granted.'' (Citation omitted.)
jury found the defendant guilty on all counts.Subsequently, the
trial court sentenced the defendant to a total effective
sentence of forty-five years of incarceration followed by
five years of special parole and lifetime sex offender
registration. This appeal followed.
defendant asserts that the trial court improperly excluded
evidence that the victim made a prior false allegation of
sexual assault against her father's then wife because in
determining whether the prior false allegation was admissible
under the rape shield statute, the trial court, rather than
the jury, determined that the evidence of falseness was not
credible. He further claims that the trial court improperly
excluded evidence of the prior investigation because the rape
shield statute does not apply to evidence of a prior
investigation when the investigation itself is being offered
to show an alternative source of advanced sexual knowledge.
state asserts that the defendant's claims are not
reviewable by this court because the defendant has not
challenged all of the grounds relied upon by the trial court
in its evidentiary ruling. Specifically, according to the
state, in addition to finding the evidence of falseness not
credible, the trial court also relied upon the remoteness in
time of the prior accusation and the confusion that admission
of the evidence would cause for the jury. The state further
asserts that the defendant's claim that the prior
investigation should have been admissible to show an
alternative source of advanced sexual knowledge for the
victim is not review-able because it was not distinctly
raised at trial, where the defendant focused his argument on
the prior allegation. The state advocates that even if the
defendant's claims are reviewable, the trial court
properly applied the rape shield statute to both the prior
allegation and the prior investigation, and properly excluded
the evidence because it was irrelevant.
reply brief, the defendant claims that the trial court did
not rely on multiple independent grounds for excluding
evidence of the prior allegation and investigation, but,
instead, described factors that the court found were relevant
to its application of the rape shield statute. The defendant
claims that he has fully challenged the trial court's
application of the rape shield statute and, therefore, his
claim is not moot and is reviewable by this court. We
disagree and, therefore, dismiss this appeal as
is a question of justiciability that must be determined as a
threshold matter because it implicates [this] court's
subject matter jurisdiction . . . . Put-man v.
Kennedy, 279 Conn. 162, 168, 900 A.2d 1256 (2006);
see also State v. McElveen, 261 Conn. 198,
204, 802 A.2d 74 (2002); In re William D., 97
Conn.App. 600, 603, 905 A.2d 696 (2006), aff'd, 284 Conn.
305, 933 A.2d 1147 (2007).'' (Internal quotation
marks omitted.) Lyon v. Jones, 291 Conn.
384, 392, 968 A.2d 416 (2009).
fundamental principles underpinning the mootness doctrine are
well settled. We begin with the four part test for
justiciability established in State v.
Nardini, 187 Conn. 109, 445 A.2d 304 (1982). . . .
Because courts are established to resolve actual
controversies, before a claimed controversy is entitled to a
resolution on the merits it must be justiciable.
Justiciability requires (1) that there be an actual
controversy between or among the parties to the dispute . . .
(2) that the interests of the parties be adverse . . . (3)
that the matter in controversy be capable of being
adjudicated by the judicial power . . . and (4) that the
determination of the controversy will result in practical
relief to the complainant. . . . Id.,
111-12.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
Lyon v. Jones, supra, 291 Conn. 393.
is not the province of appellate courts to decide moot
questions, disconnected from the granting of actual relief or
from the determination of which no practical relief can
follow. . . . Ayala v. Smith, 236
Conn. 89, 93, 671 A.2d 345 (1996). In determining mootness,
the dispositive question is whether a successful appeal would
benefit the plaintiff or defendant in any way. Hechtman
v. Savitsky, 62 Conn.App. 654, 659, 772 A.2d
673 (2001).'' (Emphasis in original; internal
quotation marks omitted.) Lyon v. Jones,
supra, 291 Conn. 394.
an appellant fails to challenge all bases for a trial
court's adverse ruling on his claim, even if this court
were to agree with the appellant on the issues that he does
raise, ‘‘we still would not be able to provide
[him] any relief in light of the binding adverse finding[s]
[not raised] with respect to those claims.''
Id., 395. Therefore, when an appellant challenges a
trial court's adverse ruling, but does not challenge all
independent bases for that ruling, the appeal is moot.
Id.; see also Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v.
Pasiak, 161 Conn.App. 86, 89 n.2, 127 A.3d 346
(2015) (‘‘[if] alternat[ive] grounds . . .
unchallenged on appeal would support the trial court's
judgment, independent of some challenged ground, the
challenged ground that forms the basis of the appeal is moot
because the court on appeal could grant no practical relief
to the complainant'' [internal quotation marks
present case, the trial court granted the state's motion
in limine to exclude evidence of the victim's prior
allegation, and related investigation, on the grounds that:it
was not admissible under the rape shield statute because the
defendant had not provided credible evidence that it was
false; it was remote in time; it was dissimilar from the
victim's allegation against the defendant; and it was a
collateral issue that would confuse the jury. The defendant
claims that the trial court considered the latter three
grounds only in conjunction with the application of the rape
shield statute and not as independent grounds for excluding
the evidence. We disagree. Regardless of whether those
considerations were pertinent to the application of the rape
shield statute, they also weighed into the court's
determination of whether the evidence was relevant and,
further, whether any relevance was outweighed by the danger
of confusion of the issues or misleading the
jury. In fact, the state, in its argument on the
motion in limine, which it made immediately prior to the
court's oral ruling, addressed the issue of whether the
evidence would raise a collateral issue separately from its
claim that its admission would be a violation of the rape
shield statute. Accordingly, the court was responding to
separate and distinct evidentiary objections. Because there
are independent bases for the trial court's exclusion of
the evidenceof the prior allegation and investigation that
the defendant has not challenged in this appeal, even if this
court were to find that the trial court improperly applied
the rape shield statute, we could grant no practical relief
to the defendant. Therefore, the defendant's claims are
moot and this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
appeal is dismissed.
opinion the other justices concurred.
 In accordance with our policy of
protecting the privacy interests of the victims of sexual
assault, we decline to identify the victim or others through
whom the victim's identity may be ascertained. General
Statutes (Supp. 2016) § 54-86e.
 General Statutes (Rev. to
2011) § 54-86f provides in relevant part:
‘‘In any prosecution for sexual assault under
sections 53a-70, 53a-70a, and 53a-71 to 53a-73a, inclusive,
no evidence of the sexual conduct of the victim may be
admissible unless such evidence is . . . (4) otherwise so
relevant and material to a critical issue in the case that
excluding it would violate the defendant's constitutional
rights. Such evidence shall be admissible only after a
hearing on a motion to offer such evidence containing an
offer of proof. . . . If the proceeding is a trial with a
jury, such hearing shall be held in the absence of the jury.
If, after hearing, the court finds that the evidence meets
the requirements of this section and that the probative value
of the evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect on the
victim, the court may grant the motion. . .
 After the jury's verdict, the
defendant pleaded guilty to a charge of being a persistent
serious sexual offender pursuant to General Statutes §
53a-40 (d), which the state had charged in a separate part B
information. The trial court conducted the sentencing hearing
for both the guilty verdict from the jury trial and the
guilty plea on the part B information at the same
 Because we dismiss this appeal as
moot, we do not address the parties' other
 Section 4-3 of the Connecticut Code of
Evidence provides: ‘‘Relevant evidence may be
excluded if its probative value is outweighed by the danger
of unfair prejudice or surprise, confusion of the issues, or
misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay,
waste of time or needless presentation of cumulative