Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

May 16, 2017

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
LAQUAN JONES

          Argued November 29, 2016

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Alexander, J.

          Matthew C. Eagan, assigned counsel, with whom were Michael S. Taylor, assigned counsel, and, on the brief, James P. Sexton, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Rita M. Shair, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and, on the brief, Robin Krawczyk, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Keller, Prescott and West, Js.

          OPINION

          WEST, J.

          The defendant, Laquan Jones, appeals from the judgment of the trial court finding that he violated his probation by carrying a pistol without a permit during his probationary period. On appeal, the defendant claims that the court improperly revoked his probation because there was insufficient evidence to establish a violation during his probationary period. We conclude that this claim is moot because the defendant subsequently pleaded guilty to the conduct that served as the basis for the violation of probation, and, thus, we dismiss the appeal.

         The record reflects the following facts and procedural history. On December 20, 2011, the defendant pleaded guilty to assault in the first degree for discharging a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (5). The defendant was sentenced to ten years incarceration, execution suspended, and five years probation. The conditions of the defendant's probation required that he, inter alia, (1) not violate any criminal law of the United States, this state, or any other state or territory, (2) not be in possession of any weapons, and (3) have no new arrests. The defendant's probationary period commenced on December 20, 2011.

         Thereafter, the defendant was arrested for an incident that occurred on March 10, 2013. Lorenzo Christian, the victim, was shot in the leg, and witnesses identified the defendant as the shooter. The defendant was charged with violation of probation, pursuant to General Statutes § 53a-32. The trial court, Alexander, J., presided over the three day trial on the violation of probation charge. The adjudicatory phase was tried on September 9 and September 11, 2013, and the dispositional phase was tried on September 16, 2013. The court found that the state had met its burden of showing that the defendant had violated a condition of his probation by committing the felony of carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35. The court revoked the defendant's probation, and imposed a ten year period of incarceration, which had previously been suspended when he was convicted of assault in 2011.

         On October 29, 2013, the defendant entered a guilty plea, pursuant to the Alford doctrine, [1] to carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of § 29-35 (a). The court allowed the entry of an Alford plea because the defendant contested the facts underlying the violation of probation finding.[2] The defendant was ultimately sentenced, on the firearm charge, to four years incarceration, one year of which was mandatory, to run concurrent with his previous sentence of ten years.

         On February 19, 2014, the defendant filed this appeal, from the violation of probation ruling, to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence that formed the basis for that finding. He did not file, however, a timely appeal to challenge the voluntariness of his subsequent Alford plea to the firearm charge on the basis that he would not have entered the plea if he had understood that it would cause his appeal from the probation matter to become moot.[3] The defendant subsequently filed a motion for permission to file a late appeal with this court on November 7, 2016. In the motion, the defendant claimed, as the basis for good cause to file a late appeal, that his current counsel had been unaware that he had previously pleaded guilty, pursuant to the Alford doctrine, to the firearm charge. On November 10, 2016, we denied the defendant's motion to file a late appeal to challenge his Alford plea to the firearm charge. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

         Although neither party briefed the issue of whether this appeal is moot in light of the defendant's Alford plea, the question involves this court's subject matter jurisdiction and was addressed by both parties during oral argument to this court. See Haynes v. Middletown, 306 Conn. 471, 474, 50 A.3d 880 (2012). Thus, we must consider at the outset whether we have subject matter jurisdiction to decide the defendant's challenge to the finding that he violated his probation. The defendant raised the issue of subject matter jurisdiction over the present appeal in his motion to file a late appeal to challenge the validity of his Alford plea. At oral argument, the defendant claimed that, despite his Alford plea to the charge that constituted the factual basis for the violation of his probation, this court has subject matter jurisdiction over his challenge to the trial court's finding that he violated his probation because he had filed a motion to file a late appeal, thus preserving a live controversy. Additionally, he argued that the present appeal is not moot because the court, during the criminal proceeding, had attempted to preserve the defendant's right to appeal by allowing him to enter an Alford plea, and that the court and the defendant's attorney had failed to recognize that entering the Alford plea would preclude him from challenging on appeal the violation of probation finding. In particular, he argues that the trial court, during the criminal proceeding for the same incident that formed the basis for the violation of probation finding, ‘‘indicated to the defendant its belief that entering an Alford plea would not impact his appellate rights in the violation of probation matter.''

         During oral argument to this court, the state, in turn, alleged that even if the defendant entered the Alford plea unknowingly and involuntarily, [4] this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this appeal because, pursuant to State v. T.D., 286 Conn. 353, 360, 944 A.2d 288 (2008), and its progeny State v. Rodriguez, 320 Conn. 694, 695, 132 A.3d 731 (2016), no live controversy existed once the defendant pleaded guilty to the firearm charge under the Alford doctrine. Once he entered the Alford plea, he effectively admitted to the criminal con- duct underlying the violation of probation. Additionally, the state argued that any failure of the defendant's trial counsel to understand that the entry of the Alford plea would cause this appeal to become moot is more appropriately the subject of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. We agree with the state that the appeal is moot.

         ‘‘Mootness implicates a court's subject matter jurisdiction and, therefore, presents a [claim] over which we exercise plenary review.'' State v. T.D., supra, 286 Conn. 361. To be justiciable, a case must contain ‘‘an actual controversy between or among the parties to the dispute . . . . [T]he requirement of an actual controversy . . . is premised upon the notion that courts are called upon to determine existing controversies, and thus may not be used as a vehicle to obtain advisory judicial opinions on points of law. . . . Moreover, [a]n actual controversy must exist not only at the time the appeal is taken, but also throughout the pendency of the appeal. . . . When, during the pendency of an appeal, events have occurred that preclude an appellate court from granting any ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.