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St. Juste v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 17, 2018

JEAN ST. JUSTE
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Argued May 30, 2018

         Procedural History

         Amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the court, T. Santos, J.; judgment denying the petition; thereafter, the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court, which dismissed the appeal; subsequently, the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to our Supreme Court, which reversed this court's judgment and remanded the matter to this court. Affirmed.

          Justine F. Miller, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Michele C. Lukban, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state's attorney, Adam E. Mattei, former assistant state's attorney, and Gerard P. Eisenman, former senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          Lavine, Alvord and Keller, Js.

          OPINION

          KELLER, J.

         This appeal returns to the Appellate Court on remand from our Supreme Court for resolution of the claim raised by the petitioner, Jean St. Juste. In 2011, following a grant of certification to appeal by the habeas court, the petitioner appealed to this court from the judgment of the habeas court denying his amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which challenged a conviction of assault in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60 (a) (2). The petitioner claimed that the habeas court improperly rejected his claim that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance because he failed to inform him that if he were convicted of the crime of assault in the second degree, his conviction would result in his certain deportation. In 2015, this court dismissed the appeal on mootness grounds. St. Juste v. Commissioner of Correction, 155 Conn.App. 164, 181, 109 A.3d 523 (2015). In 2018, following a grant of certification to appeal, our Supreme Court reversed the judgment of this court and remanded the case to this court with direction to consider the merits of the petitioner's appeal. St. Juste v. Commissioner of Correction, 328 Conn. 198, 219, 177 A.3d 1144 (2018). Having done so, we affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

         The relevant facts and procedural history were set forth in this court's prior opinion, as follows: ‘‘On July 26, 2010, the petitioner filed an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus in which he alleged that, on December 17, 2007, he pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree in violation of . . . § 53a-60 (a) (2), and guilty under the Alford doctrine[1] to possession of a sawed-off shotgun in violation of General Statutes § 53a-211. He was represented by Attorney Howard Ignal. On January 28, 2008, he was sentenced pursuant to a plea agreement to a total effective sentence of five years incarceration, execution suspended after eighteen months, followed by five years of probation. On July 27, 2009, the petitioner, represented by Attorney Anthony Collins, filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas on the ground that at the time he entered them, he did not understand their immigration consequences. On November 17, 2009, the court denied the motion.

         ‘‘In his two count amended petition, the petitioner alleged that Ignal rendered ineffective assistance of counsel because, among other deficiencies, he (1) failed to educate himself about the immigration consequences of the pleas, (2) misadvised the petitioner with respect to the immigration consequences of the pleas, and (3) failed to meaningfully discuss with the petitioner what immigration consequences could and/or would flow from the pleas. The petitioner alleged that Ignal's representation was below that displayed by attorneys with ordinary training and skill in the criminal law, and that but for such representation, he would not have pleaded guilty and he would have resolved the case in a way that would not result in ‘deportation consequences.' In the second count of his petition, the petitioner alleged that his pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently made because he made them under the mistaken belief that his conviction would not subject him to deportation. The petitioner alleged that ‘[a]s a result of his conviction, [he] has been ordered removed from this country by an immigration judge, and the judge's order has been affirmed by the Board of Immigration Appeals.' Additionally, the petitioner alleged that ‘[t]he basis for the removal order was the conviction for assault in the second degree and possession of a sawed-off shotgun.'[2]

         ‘‘Following an evidentiary hearing, the habeas court orally rendered its decision denying the petition.[3] In relevant part, the court stated that it accepted as true the testimony of the petitioner's trial attorney, Ignal. The court stated: ‘[Ignal] clearly saw all of the problems with this case, and they all spelled the word ‘‘immigration.'' From day one, I think, he was alerted to this and did everything he could, from what I can see, to try to avert the ultimate result.' The court found that Ignal was well aware of the adverse consequences of the pleas insofar as they involved deportation, and that he had thoroughly discussed that issue with the petitioner. The court rejected the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Later, the court granted the petitioner's petition for certification to appeal.''[4] (Footnotes in original.) St. Juste v. Commissioner of Correction, supra, 155 Conn.App. 166-67. We observe that the court's ruling was based on its finding that the petitioner failed in satisfying his burden to demonstrate that Ignal's performance was deficient. The court did not reach the issue of whether the petitioner sustained his burden of demonstrating that he was prejudiced by Ignal's representation. Moreover, we observe that the petitioner's claim on appeal is limited to representation afforded to him in connection with his guilty plea for assault in the second degree.

         In his principal appellate brief, the petitioner argues that the judgment of the habeas court should be reversed because, under the standard set forth in Padilla v. Kentucky, 599 U.S. 356, 130 S.Ct. 1473, 176 L.Ed.2d 284 (2010), [5] Ignal rendered deficient representation in that, prior to entering the plea agreement, Ignal failed to advise him ‘‘that his [assault] conviction would make him subject to automatic deportation.''[6] Moreover, the petitioner argues that he suffered actual prejudice as a result of the ineffective representation because there is a reasonable probability that, if he had known the adverse immigration consequences of his plea, he would not have pleaded guilty but would have proceeded to trial. After the parties filed their principal briefs, the United States Supreme Court, in Chaidez v. United States, 568 U.S. 342, 133 S.Ct. 1103, 185 L.Ed.2d 149 (2013), held that Padilla does not apply retroactively to petitioners whose convictions had become final by the time that the Padilla decision was announced on March 31, 2010. See Guerra v. State, 150 Conn.App. 68, 74 n.4, 89 A.3d 1028 (interpreting Chaidez), cert. denied, 314 Conn. 903, 99 A.3d 1168 (2014); Alcena v. Commissioner of Correction, 146 Conn.App. 370, 374, 76 A.3d 742 (same), cert. denied, 310 Conn. 948, 80 A.3d 905 (2013).

         By way of supplemental briefing, the parties have addressed the effect of Chaidez on the present appeal. The parties do not dispute, and we agree, that Padilla does not apply to the petitioner. The issue correctly framed by the parties' supplemental briefs is whether the petitioner has sustained his burden of demonstrating that Ignal performed deficiently under the law as it existed prior to Padilla.

         ‘‘[T]he governing legal principles in cases involving claims of ineffective assistance of counsel arising in connection with guilty pleas are set forth in Strickland [v.Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984)] and Hill [v.Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 106 S.Ct. 366, 88 L.Ed.2d 203 (1985)]. [According to] Strickland, [an ineffective assistance of counsel] claim must be supported by evidence establishing that (1) counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) counsel's deficient performance prejudiced the defense because there was a reasonable probability that the outcome of the proceedings would have been different had it not been for the deficient performance. . . . The first prong requires a showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the counsel guaranteed . . . by the [s]ixth [a]mendment. . . . Under . . . Hill . . . which . . . modified the prejudice prong of the Strickland test for claims of ineffective assistance when the conviction resulted from a guilty plea, the evidence must demonstrate that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, [the petitioner] would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial. . . . An ineffective assistance of counsel claim will succeed only if both prongs [of Strickland as modified by Hill] are satisfied.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Bozelko v.Commissioner of Correction, 162 Conn.App. 716, ...


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