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Gainey v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 24, 2018

LATUAN GAINEY
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Argued February 1, 2017

         Procedural History

         Petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland, where the court, Oliver, J., rendered judgment dismissing the petition, from which the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Appeal dismissed.

          Joseph Patten Brown III, with whom was Delena Brown, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Mitchell S. Brody, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, was Maureen Platt, state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          Lavine, Prescott and Elgo, Js.

          OPINION

          LAVINE, J.

         Following the habeas court's granting of certification to appeal, the petitioner, Latuan Gainey, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court sua sponte dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court abused its discretion by dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to the prior pending action doctrine. We dismiss the appeal as moot.

         The following procedural history is relevant to our resolution of this appeal. On March 17, 2015, the petitioner pleaded guilty to the charges pending against him in two consolidated criminal files in Waterbury for offenses he committed on March 20, 2014, and May 20, 2012.[1] At that time, the petitioner was sentenced to serve concurrent sentences of two and one-half years incarceration and seven years of special parole.[2]

         On April 7, 2015, the petitioner filed a self-represented petition for a writ of habeas corpus (first petition).[3] On September 11, 2015, the petitioner was released from incarceration and began serving his term of special parole. On September 23, 2015, the petitioner was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 and assault in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-61 for incidents that took place one day after he was released from prison. In his brief on appeal, the petitioner represents that on September 24, 2015, he was served with a notice of parole violation by the Board of Pardons and Paroles (parole board) on the basis of his failure to register with the state police deadly offender registry unit and his September 23, 2015 arrest.

         On December 8, 2015, the petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of breach of peace in the second degree for incidents that occurred on September 20, 2015, and received an unconditional discharge. The petitioner appeared before the parole board for an evidentiary hearing on December 28, 2015. The parole board found that the petitioner had violated the conditions of his release and the terms of his special parole. See footnote 1 of this opinion. The parole board, therefore, sentenced the petitioner to incarceration for two years and six months of his remaining seven year term of special parole.

         On September 26, 2016, the petitioner filed a self-represented petition for a writ of habeas corpus (second petition), which is the petition at issue in the present appeal.[4] On September 29, 2016, the habeas court sua sponte dismissed the second petition on the basis of the prior pending action doctrine.[5] See Practice Book § 23-29 (5).[6] The habeas court granted the petition for certification to appeal from the judgment dismissing the second petition.

         The petitioner appealed, claiming that the habeas court committed legal error by dismissing his second petition under the prior pending action doctrine and that he was entitled to a hearing on his second petition before it could be dismissed. While the appeal was pending in this court, but before oral argument had occurred, the petitioner completed the term of imprisonment imposed by the parole board for the petitioner's violation of special parole on September 11, 2015. Thus, during oral argument, the respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, suggested that the appeal was moot. Following oral argument, we sua sponte ordered the parties to provide certain information and submit simultaneous supplemental briefs addressing whether the petitioner's appeal was moot.[7]

         In their responses to our sua sponte order, the parties agree that the petitioner has completed the term of his reincarceration, has been readmitted to special parole, and is now residing in a halfway house in Waterbury.[8]In his supplemental brief, the respondent argues that the appeal is moot because the remedy the petitioner sought in his second petition was release from incarceration and to be readmitted to special parole, which has taken place. Consequently, he asserts, there is no practical relief that this court can grant the petitioner. The respondent also argues that the issue on appeal ...


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