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.

Johnson v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

May 1, 2018

VANCE JOHNSON
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Argued March 5, 2018

         Procedural History

         Petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the court, Oliver, J.; judgment dismissing the petition; thereafter, the court denied the petition for certification to appeal, and the petitioner appealed to this court. Appeal dismissed.

          Kinga A. Kostaniak, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Nancy L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, was Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Bright and Flynn, Js.

          OPINION

          BRIGHT, J.

         The petitioner, Vance Johnson, appeals following the denial of his petition for certification to appeal from the judgment of the habeas court dismissing his seventh petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In his habeas petition, the petitioner alleged that his conviction is illegal because he did not understand, due to his compromised mental state, what was occurring when he pleaded guilty to one charge and then proceeded to trial on a second charge. The habeas court sua sponte dismissed the petition because it raised the same ground as two prior petitions that had been denied, and it failed to state new facts or to proffer new evidence not reasonably available at the time of the prior petitions. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court abused its discretion in denying the petition for certification to appeal because he has a meritorious claim that his prior habeas counsel was ineffective. The respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, argues that the issue raised on appeal is not reviewable because the petitioner did not raise it in his habeas petition or in his petition for certification. We agree and, therefore, dismiss the appeal.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our review. ‘‘On August 29, 1994, the petitioner was charged with murder in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1993) § 53a-54a and with criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1993) § 53a-217. On December 9, 1996, the petitioner pleaded guilty to the charge of criminal possession of a firearm and received a sentence of five years incarceration in the custody of the respondent. At a subsequent jury trial, in which he was represented by [Attorney] Fred DeCaprio (trial counsel), the petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to sixty years incarceration, to run concurrently with the sentence on the firearm charge for a total effective sentence of sixty years of imprisonment. The petitioner's murder conviction was affirmed on direct appeal in State v. Johnson, 53 Conn.App. 476, 733 A.2d 852, cert. denied, 249 Conn. 929, 733 A.2d 849 (1999).'' Johnson v. Commissioner of Correction, 168 Conn.App. 294, 296, 145 A.3d 416, cert. denied, 323 Conn. 937, 151 A.3d 385 (2016).

         Although the current appeal concerns the petitioner's seventh habeas corpus petition, the history regarding the fifth and sixth petitions is relevant to provide the necessary context to this appeal. ‘‘On March 21, 2011, the petitioner, represented by Laljeebhai R. Patel (fourth habeas counsel), filed a fifth habeas petition, alleging that his second habeas counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to allege in the second habeas action that his first habeas counsel rendered ineffective assistance for failing to allege that trial counsel was ineffective ‘at the petitioner's plea on the weapons charge and at the murder trial for failing to investigate . . . the [petitioner's] incompetence at plea and trial' and ‘failing to present the claim of the petitioner's incompetence at plea and at trial.' Following the testimony of trial counsel, first habeas counsel and second habeas counsel, the fifth habeas court denied the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, finding the petitioner's claim that his trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance meritless as ‘there had never been ‘‘a question in anyone's mind'' as to the petitioner's competency at the time of his trial.' Johnson v. Commissioner of Correction, 144 Conn.App. 365, 368, 73 A.3d 776, cert. denied, 310 Conn. 918, 76 A.3d 633 (2013). The fifth habeas court further determined that ‘ ‘‘there is no possibility . . . that [the petitioner] was incompetent. There isn't even a hint of it.'' ' Id.

         ‘‘The petitioner filed a petition for certification to appeal from that decision, which the fifth habeas court granted. Id., 369. On appeal, this court noted that the claims in the fifth petition ‘were based upon . . . trial counsel's alleged failure to request a competency examination pursuant to General Statutes § 54-56d and the failure of [the petitioner's] two prior habeas attorneys to allege ineffectiveness by their predecessors in prior trial and habeas corpus proceedings.' . . . Id., 367-68. We affirmed the fifth habeas court's conclusion that the petitioner failed to prove that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. Id., 371. We further affirmed the judgment in regard to the claims against the first and second habeas counsel because, as a result of the determination that ‘[trial counsel] did not render ineffective assistance in failing to request a competency evaluation, ' the petitioner could not as a matter of law prove prejudice resulting from the first and second habeas counsel's alleged failure to raise a claim against trial counsel on that ground. Id., 369 n.2. Our Supreme Court denied the petitioner's petition for certification to appeal from this court's judgment. Johnson v. Commissioner of Correction, 310 Conn. 918, 76 A.3d 633 (2013).

         ‘‘On July 22, 2013, the self-represented petitioner filed a sixth habeas petition . . . . On November 14, 2014, the petitioner filed [another] amended petition (sixth petition), claiming ineffective assistance of the first, second, third, and fourth habeas counsel for failing to allege in their respective prior habeas petitions that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion for competency evaluation pursuant to § 54-56d at or before the time of the petitioner's plea on the firearm charge, at or before sentencing on the firearms charge, at or before the jury trial for murder, at or before sentencing on the murder conviction, and after sentencing for murder for discovery of evidence that trial counsel failed to investigate by way of petition for a new trial.'' (Footnote omitted.) Johnson v. Commissioner of Correction, supra, 168 Conn.App. 299-301.

         The habeas court dismissed the sixth petition in its entirety on the ground of res judicata. This court affirmed the decision of the habeas corpus holding that the claims as to first and second habeas counsel were precluded by res judicata, the claims as to third habeas counsel were barred by collateral estoppel, and the claim as to fourth habeas counsel failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Id., 308, 312-13.

         On October 20, 2016, the petitioner filed his seventh habeas corpus petition, which is the subject of this appeal. In his petition, the petitioner claimed that he did not understand the criminal trial proceedings in court, was confused due to his mental state, and felt that the circumstances of his mental condition at the time of his criminal proceedings should have been taken into consideration, but ...


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.