January 10, 2017.
from Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Fasano,
Feraizi, with whom, on the brief, was Martin J. Minnella, for
the appellant (defendant).
L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom,
on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's attorney, and
Amy L. Sedensky, senior assistant state's attorney, for
the appellee (state).
Alvord, Sheldon and Bear, Js.
defendant, Manuel A. Guaman, appeals from the judgment of
conviction of assault in the first degree in violation of
General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (3), rendered following
the trial court's denial of his motion to withdraw his
Alford plea. On appeal, the defendant claims that the
court erred when it denied his motion to withdraw his plea
because his counsel at the time of his plea provided
ineffective assistance when: (1) he failed to advise him of
the immigration consequences of his guilty plea; and (2) he
failed to advise him fully of his available options related
to his plea because he was laboring under an undisclosed
conflict of interest. We affirm the judgment of the trial
following uncontested facts and procedural history are
relevant to this appeal. On September 2, 2013, the defendant,
a citizen of Ecuador, assaulted the victim with a broken beer
bottle, causing severe lacerations to his right arm and face.
The injuries required surgery and resulted in scarring to the
victim's face. On September 3, 2013, the defendant was
charged with assault in the first degree in violation of
§ 53a-59 and breach of peace in the second degree in
violation of General Statutes § 53a-181.
being represented by Attorney David Feliu, the defendant
pleaded not guilty to the charges and elected a jury trial.
After becoming dissatisfied with Feliu's representation,
the defendant sought new counsel, and, thereafter, retained
Attorney Ira Mayo. Mayo represented the defendant from May
through September 2014. On October 1, 2014, Mayo began a four
month suspension from the practice of law. Mayo first learned
of this suspension on July 2, 2014.
September 19, 2014, while still represented by Mayo, the
defendant pleaded guilty, pursuant to the Alford
doctrine, to assault in the first degree in violation of
§ 53a-59 (a) (3), under a substitute information.
Following a canvass of the defendant, the court, Fasano,
J., determined that the defendant's plea was
knowingly and voluntarily made with the assistance of
competent counsel. During the canvass, the plaintiff affirmed
to the court that he understood the immigration consequences
of his plea, including that deportation was a
‘‘virtual certainty'' after the court
accepted his guilty plea and he was convicted of assault in
the first degree. The defendant also affirmed that he had
discussed the immigration consequences of his plea with his
attorney. The court thereafter accepted the defendant's
March 27, 2015, the defendant, who by this date had again
obtained new counsel, moved to withdraw his guilty plea on
the grounds that Mayo had performed deficiently and thus
provided him with ineffective assistance because he: (1)
failed to advise him of the immigration consequences of his
plea; and (2) failed to advise him about all of his options
regarding how to dispose of his case because of an actual
conflict of interest. Given Mayo's forthcoming
suspension, the defendant claimed that a conflict of interest
arose in representing him at his plea hearing. The state
objected to the motion, and the defendant and the state
presented testimony and other evidence in support of their
positions over the course of four days in June, 2015.
defendant and David Avila, a friend who helped the defendant
retain Mayo and translated for the defendant at their first
meeting, testified at the hearing on the motion to withdraw
the guilty plea. Both men testified that Mayo had never
discussed with the defendant the immigration consequences of
pleading guilty. The defendant testified that the first time
that Mayo told him of the plea offer was on September 19,
2014, that the conversation occurred just before the plea
hearing was to take place, and that Mayo told him that he had
to plead guilty. He also testified that there were never any
discussions of his trial options, and that Mayo explained
only the state's evidence against him. Additionally, he
testified that Mayo never informed him of the four-month
suspension from the practice of law to which Mayo had agreed
and, instead, that Mayo told him that he was going on
vacation for four months and that another attorney would
handle the sentencing hearing scheduled for December, 2014.
contradiction of the defendant's and Avila's
testimony, Mayo testified at length regarding the advice he
had given to the defendant over the course of his
representation, stating that he had repeatedly advised the
defendant that a conviction on the charged offenses would
lead to deportation, that he, Mayo, would be suspended from
the practice of law for four months, that he had reviewed
with the defendant all of his options regarding whether to
plead guilty or go to trial, and that he had given the
defendant the names of at least two attorneys who would be
willing to represent him if he chose to go to trial.
conclusion of the hearing, the court expressly credited
Mayo's testimony over that of the defendant and Avila.
Additionally, the court found that Mayo had advised the
defendant of the immigration consequences of his plea, that
the court had fully canvassed the defendant on his plea, and,
that because of the potential length of the sentence that the
defendant was exposed to if he were convicted, he chose to
plead guilty notwithstanding the likelihood of deportation.
The court also found that Mayo advised the defendant of his
upcoming suspension, that Mayo gave him the names of other
attorneys whom the defendant could contact to represent him,
that the defendant was not forced to, or believed that he had
to, plead guilty, and that any impact of the pending
suspension was speculative. The court found, on the basis of
the defendant's plea canvass, that the defendant was
satisfied with Mayo's representation at the time he
pleaded guilty, and the court viewed the plea offer as