October 17, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, McMahon,
J. [competency determination]; Miano, J. [competency
determination; motion to proceed by self-representation];
Espinosa, J. [judgment]; Schuman, J. [remand hearing].)
Boehlert, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).
Matthew A. Weiner, assistant state's attorney, with whom,
on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy and Anne Mahoney,
state's attorneys, and Denise B. Smoker, senior assistant
state's attorney, for the appellee (state).
Sheldon, Mullins and Bear, Js.
case returns to us following a remand by our Supreme Court.
On remand, our Supreme Court has directed us to consider
whether the trial court improperly determined that the
defendant, Jeffrey T. Connor, was competent to represent
himself at his criminal trial. State v. Connor, 321
Conn. 350, 375, 138 A.3d 265 (2016). Having considered that
question, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its
discretion in determining that the defendant was competent to
represent himself. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the
complicated and lengthy procedural history of this case
previously was set forth by our Supreme Court in Connor
II. ‘‘The defendant was charged with a
number of crimes in connection with the abduction of his
former wife. . . . The extensive pretrial proceedings
reflected repeated attempts by the trial court to ascertain
the defendant's competency both to stand trial and to
discharge his court-appointed counsel and represent
himself. . . . The defendant's competency had
been called into doubt due to the fact that he had suffered a
debilitating stroke and exhibited signs of mental illness. .
. . The efficacy of these proceedings was complicated by the
defendant's refusal to cooperate with the medical
professionals tasked with evaluating him and his intermittent
unresponsiveness in court. . . . In reliance on the opinion
of several medical professionals, the trial court,
McMahon, J., concluded that the defendant's
refusal to cooperate was volitional . . . and the trial
court, Miano, J., thereafter concluded that the
defendant was malingering, and found him competent to stand
trial. . . .
defendant's case proceeded to trial before Judge
Espinosa,  who concluded that the defendant's
unre-sponsiveness during jury selection reflected his
continued malingering . . . [and] that the defendant was
competent to represent himself. . . . Judge Espinosa
therefore permitted the defendant to represent himself, but
appointed his defense counsel as standby counsel. . . . A
jury [found] the defendant [guilty] on all but one of the
charges against him.'' (Citations omitted; footnotes
added; internal quotation marks omitted.) Connor II,
supra, 321 Conn. 354-56.
defendant directly appealed from the judgment of conviction
to our Supreme Court, claiming that Judge Espinosa improperly
determined that he was competent to represent himself. See
State v. Connor, 292 Conn. 483, 973 A.2d 627 (2009).
At the time of the defendant's trial, our law dictated
that a defendant who had been found competent to stand trial
necessarily also was competent to represent himself. See
State v. Day, 233 Conn. 813, 825, 661 A.2d 539
(1995) (‘‘a defendant who has been found
competent to stand trial as a matter of state law also is
competent to waive the right to counsel''), overruled
in part by Connor I, supra, 292 Conn. 528 n.29.
Thus, as our Supreme Court observed in Connor I,
given that the defendant had been found competent to stand
trial, Judge Espinosa ‘‘had no
alternative'' but to permit the defendant to
represent himself. Connor I, supra, 528.
the defendant's direct appeal to our Supreme Court was
pending, however, the United States Supreme Court clarified
in Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164, 177-78, 128
S.Ct. 2379, 171 L.Ed.2d 345 (2008), that a defendant who is
competent to stand trial nevertheless may lack the competency
to represent himself. Connor I, supra, 292 Conn.
525. Therefore, pursuant to Edwards, a state may
‘‘insist [on] representation by counsel for those
competent enough to stand trial . . . but who still suffer
from severe mental illness to the point where they are not
competent to conduct trial proceedings by
themselves.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
light of Edwards, our Supreme Court exercised its
supervisory authority in Connor I to announce the
following rule: ‘‘[W]hen a trial court is
presented with a mentally ill or mentally incapacitated
defendant who, having been found competent to stand trial,
elects to represent himself, the trial court also must
ascertain whether the defendant is, in fact, competent to
conduct the trial proceedings without the assistance of
counsel.'' Id., 527-28. After so ruling, our
Supreme Court remanded the defendant's case specifically
to Judge Espinosa so that she could determine, in accordance
with Edwards and Connor I,
‘‘whether the defendant then was competent,
notwithstanding any mental disability, to conduct the trial
proceedings by himself.'' Id., 528.
remand proceedings began before Judge Espinosa in early 2010.
Shortly thereafter, and before the proceedings concluded,
Judge Espinosa was elevated to the Appellate Court. As a
result, Judge Schu-man assumed control of the proceedings. On
May 25, 2012, Judge Schuman held an evidentiary hearing, and,
on June 6, 2012, he issued a written memorandum of decision
wherein he determined that the defendant had been competent
to represent himself at his criminal trial.
defendant appealed from Judge Schuman's competency
determination, claiming that Judge Schuman abused his
discretion in concluding that the defendant had been
competent to represent himself during his criminal trial. See
State v. Connor, 152 Conn.App. 780, 100 A.3d 877
(2014), rev'd, 321 Conn. 350, 138 A.3d 265 (2016). This
court reversed the trial court's judgment on the ground
that the remand hearing held by Judge Schuman was
procedurally flawed. Id., 810. This court then
directed the trial court to grant the defendant a new
criminal trial. Id., 817.
state then filed a petition for certification to appeal this
court's decision. After granting certification to appeal,
our Supreme Court concluded that this court erred in
reversing the judgment rendered by Judge Schuman and in
ordering a new trial because this court had raised, sua
sponte, a ground not argued by the parties, namely, the
procedural inadequacy of the remand hearing. Connor
II, supra, 321 Conn. 354. Accordingly, our Supreme Court
remanded the case back to this court with direction to
consider the defendant's claim that ‘‘the
trial court abused its discretion when it erroneously
concluded that the [defendant] was ...