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.

Stephen J. R. v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

November 7, 2017

STEPHEN J. R. [*]
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Argued: September 13, 2017

          Robert O'Brien, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, was William A. Adsit, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Denise B. Smoker, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Brian Preleski, state's attorney, and Grayson Colt Holmes, former special deputy assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          Keller, Mullins and Lavery, Js. [**]

         Syllabus

         The petitioner, who had been convicted of various crimes in connection with his alleged sexual abuse of the child victim, sought a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to consult with and present the testimony of an expert on false memory syndrome in child sexual assault cases. The habeas court rendered judgment denying the petition and, thereafter, denied the petition for certification to appeal, and the petitioner appealed to this court. Held that the habeas court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for certification to appeal, the petitioner having failed to demonstrate that trial counsel's performance was deficient: it was clear from the record that trial counsel's decision to focus on the victim's lack of credibility and the inconsistency in her story was a matter of trial strategy, and there was no requirement that counsel call an expert when counsel, after conducting his own research, specifically considered the false memory defense and made the strategic decision to attack the victim's credibility rather than present expert testimony, which was a reasonable strategic approach; accordingly, the petitioner failed to demonstrate that the issue raised was debatable among jurists of reason, that a court could resolve the issue differently, or that the question raised deserved encouragement to proceed further.

         Procedural History

         Amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland, where the court, Fuger, J., rendered judgment denying the petition; thereafter, the court denied the petition for certification to appeal, and the petitioner appealed to this court. Appeal dismissed.

          OPINION

          MULLINS, J.

         The petitioner, Stephen J. R., appeals following the habeas court's denial of his petition for certification to appeal from the judgment denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the court improperly denied his petition for certification to appeal after erroneously concluding that his criminal trial counsel, Christopher Eddy, had provided effective assistance despite his decision not to consult with and present the testimony of an expert on false memory syndrome in child sexual assault cases. We conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for certification to appeal, and, accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

         On direct appeal from the petitioner's underlying conviction, our Supreme Court set forth the following relevant facts that the jury reasonably could have found. ‘‘During all relevant periods of time, the [petitioner] was a long haul truck driver from Georgia, whose job took him through Connecticut at various times throughout the year. In the spring of 2002, the [petitioner] and [the victim's] mother, A, met and later began a dating relationship. This relationship lasted from approximately April, 2002 to April, 2003, when [the victim] was approximately seven years old. During that period of time, the [petitioner] stayed with A and [the victim] in their one bedroom apartment . . . four or five times, in stays ranging from overnight to three or four days, in addition to a multi week stay on one occasion while A recuperated from an accident. When the [petitioner] stayed overnight, he routinely would drive A to work at 8:30 a.m. and pick her up at approximately 5:30 p.m. At approximately 3 p.m., the [petitioner] would pick [the victim] up from school. As a result, the [petitioner] and [the victim] were alone in the apartment each afternoon for approximately one and one-half hours.

         ‘‘One day between April and June, 2002, when [the victim] was at home after school, she went from the living room into the bedroom that she shared with her mother to play with her dollhouse. When [the victim] entered the bedroom, she found the [petitioner] undressed on the bed. The [petitioner] told her to put his penis in her mouth, and she did. The [petitioner] then pulled down her clothing from the waist down and put his tongue on her vagina. Afterward, the [petitioner] instructed [the victim] not to tell her mother about what had happened.

         ‘‘Several months into A's relationship with the [petitioner], she noticed a change in [the victim's] attitude toward the [petitioner]. [The victim] seemed afraid of the [petitioner] and uncomfortable around him. On one occasion, when the [petitioner] asked [the victim] to go somewhere with him, she ran to her mother and said, ‘Mommy, I don't want to go with him anymore.'

         In April, 2003, Abroke off her relationship with the [petitioner].

         ‘‘In January or February, 2006, the [petitioner's] sister called A and asked her if the [petitioner] had done anything sexually to [the victim]. A then posed that question to [the victim]. [The victim] denied the abuse to her mother because she thought that if she ‘broke that secret that something bad would happen.' Several more times during the next two years [the victim] denied to her mother that the [petitioner] had sexually assaulted her. In November or December, 2007, however, [the victim] admitted to a friend that the [petitioner] had ‘raped' her. In February, 2008, [the ...


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.