November 18, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Newson, J.
Michael W. Brown, for the appellant (petitioner).
Melissa L. Streeto, senior assistant state's attorney,
with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's
attorney, and Angela Macchiarulo, senior assistant
state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).
DiPentima, C. J., and Beach and Pellegrino, Js.
a grant of certification to appeal, the petitioner, Luis
Rojas, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying
his amended petition for writ of habeas corpus. The
petitioner claims that the habeas court erred by not
concluding that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing
to negotiate a plea bargain on his behalf, and by not
concluding that the petitioner was prejudiced by his trial
counsel's failure to properly investigate his case. We
affirm the judgment of the habeas court.
2008, the petitioner was convicted, following a jury trial,
of robbery in the first degree in violation of General
Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (4), burglary in the third degree
in violation of General Statutes § 53a-103, and
kidnapping in the first degree in violation of General
Statutes § 53a-92 (a) (2) (B). Thereafter, the trial
court vacated the petitioner's kidnapping conviction and
sentenced him on the remaining charges to a total effective
term of twenty-five years in the custody of the respondent,
the Commissioner of Correction, execution suspended after
twenty years, and five years of probation. The petitioner
appealed and this court affirmed his conviction. State v.
Rojas, 124 Conn.App. 745, 6 A.3d 155, cert. denied, 299
Conn. 921, 10 A.3d 1054 (2010).
following underlying facts and procedural history are
relevant to the petitioner's claim. On July 31, 2007, the
trial court appointed the public defender's office to
represent the petitioner. Id., 747. Subsequently, on
August 2, 2007, Special Public Defender Richard E. Cohen
entered his appearance with the court as counsel for the
petitioner. Id. On November 16, 2007, Cohen filed a
motion to withdraw appearance, citing mistrust by the
petitioner caused by disagreements over trial strategy, a
lack of meaningful communication with the petitioner, and his
belief that the attorney-client relationship was broken
irretrievably. Id. After a hearing, the court denied
Cohen's motion. Id., 749.
petitioner appealed from his conviction, claiming that the
trial court failed to make an adequate inquiry into the
allegations that there was no meaningful communication with
his trial counsel and that their attorney-client relationship
had broken down irretrievably. Id., 751. This court
concluded, ‘‘the [trial] court was aware of the
nature and scope of the [petitioner's] complaints . . . .
Accordingly, the court did not abuse its discretion by not
enlarging its inquiry any further.'' Id.,
this court affirmed his conviction, the petitioner filed a
two count amended petition for writ of habeas corpus. In
count one, the petitioner claimed ineffective assistance of
counsel, alleging that his counsel failed to pursue plea
negotiations with the state on his behalf and to properly
investigate his case, and he made several other allegations
that are not at issue in this appeal. In count two, the
petitioner claimed prosecutorial impropriety. The petitioner
proceeded to trial on count one only.
one day trial held on May 25, 2012, the habeas court denied
the petition in an oral decision from the bench. The court
found that Cohen had failed to conduct any independent
investigation of the petitioner's case, and failed to
contact any witnesses other than one witness who testified
for the prosecution. Additionally, the court found that
‘‘[the petitioner] was simply a difficult person
who was unhappy with his representation, '' and that
‘‘he did everything he could to make things
difficult.'' The court found that Cohen's
performance was deficient for failing to conduct a proper
investigation of the petitioner's case, but that his
performance was not deficient for failing to pursue plea
negotiations with the state on behalf of the petitioner. The
court ultimately concluded, however, that despite any
deficient performance, there was nothing that Cohen did or
failed to do that was prejudicial to the petitioner. On June
25, 2012, the habeas court granted the petitioner's
petition for certification to appeal. This appeal followed.
Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.
begin by setting forth our general standard of review.
‘‘A criminal defendant is constitutionally
entitled to adequate and effective assistance of counsel at
all critical stages of criminal proceedings. . . . This right
arises under the sixth and fourteenth amendments to the
United States constitution and article first, § 8, of
the Connecticut constitution. . . . As enunciated in
Strickland v. Washington, [466 U.S. 668');">466 U.S. 668, 686-87, 104
S.Ct. 2052, 80L.Ed.2d 674 (1984)], [our Supreme Court] has
stated: It is axiomatic that the right to counsel is the
right to the effective assistance of counsel. . . . A claim
of ineffective assistance of counsel consists of two
components: a performance prong and a prejudice prong. . . .
The claim will succeed only if both prongs are
satisfied.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
Spearman v. Commissioner of Correction, 164
Conn.App. 530, 538, 138 A.3d 378, cert. denied, 321 Conn.
923, 138 A.3d 284 (2016).
to] Strickland, [an ineffective assistance of
counsel] claim must be supported by evidence establishing
that (1) counsel's representation fell below an objective
standard of reasonableness, and (2) counsel's
deficient performance prejudiced the defense because there
was a reasonable probability that the outcome of the
proceedings would have been different had it not been for the
deficient performance.'' (Emphasis in original;
internal quotation marks ...