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Langston v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

October 23, 2018

RICHARD LANGSTON
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Argued September 17, 2018

         Procedural History

         Amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland, where the court, Oliver, J., granted the respondent's motion to dismiss and rendered judgment thereon, from which the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Robert L. O'Brien, with whom, on the brief, was Christopher Y. Duby, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Lisa A. Riggione, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and David M. Carlucci, assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Eveleigh, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

          The petitioner, Richard Langston, appeals from the dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus as untimely under General Statutes § 52-470 (e). The petitioner argues that he established good cause for the delayed filing of his untimely petition, and the habeas court's judgment of dismissal was improper.[1] We are not convinced and, thus, affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

         The following facts are relevant to this appeal. In May, 1999, the petitioner was convicted of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (2), criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217 and commission of a class A, B, or C felony with a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53-202k. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-five years of incarceration. On appeal, the conviction was affirmed. State v. Langston, 67 Conn.App. 903, 786 A.2d 547, cert. denied, 259 Conn. 916, 792 A.2d 852 (2002).

         In 2002, the petitioner filed his first petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging, inter alia, ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Although the petition was granted by the habeas court, on appeal that judgment was reversed and certification to our Supreme Court was denied. See Langston v. Commissioner of Correction, 104 Conn.App. 210, 224, 931 A.2d 967, cert. denied, 284 Conn. 941, 937 A.2d 697 (2007). Thereafter, in March, 2008, the petitioner filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which was denied in March, 2012. Langston v. Murphy, United States District Court, Docket No. 3:08CV410 (DJS) (D. Conn. March 7, 2012). Then, in May, 2012, he filed a second petition for a writ of habeas corpus in state court. The petition was withdrawn on September 22, 2014, three days prior to a hearing on a motion to dismiss and less than one month before the scheduled trial date.

         On December 3, 2014, the petitioner filed a new petition for a writ of habeas corpus in state court, which is the subject of the present appeal and alleged, inter alia, ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Following the appearance of counsel and the filing of an amended petition, the respondent Commissioner of Correction filed a request for an order to show cause as to why the present petition should not be dismissed as untimely pursuant to § 52-470 (d) and (e).[2] The petitioner filed an objection, and a hearing was held on February 8, 2017. In its memorandum of decision, dated March 23, 2017, the habeas court found that the petition was untimely because it was filed after the October 1, 2014 deadline[3] and the petitioner had failed to show good cause for the delay. Accordingly, the habeas court dismissed the petition. Thereafter, the court granted the petition for certification to appeal, and this appeal followed.

         ‘‘The conclusions reached by the [habeas court] in its decision to dismiss the habeas petition are matters of law, subject to plenary review . . . Thus, [where] the legal conclusions of the court are challenged, we must determine whether they are legally and logically correct and whether they find support in the facts that appear in the record.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Foote v. Commissioner of Correction, 170 Conn.App. 747, 753, 155 A.3d 823, cert. denied, 352 Conn. 902, 155 A.3d 1271 (2017). ‘‘To the extent that factual findings are challenged, this court cannot disturb the underlying facts found by the habeas court unless they are clearly erroneous.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Carter v. Commissioner of Correction, 133 Conn.App. 387, 392, 35 A.3d 1088, cert. denied, 307 Conn. 901, 53 A.3d 217 (2012).

         The petitioner does not dispute the finding that his petition is untimely. Rather, on appeal, he argues that the habeas court erred in concluding that he failed to show good cause for the delay. Specifically, the petitioner contends that (1) this untimely petition does not violate the spirit or purpose of § 52-470 because it concerns issues that have been litigated consistently since 1999, and (2) in withdrawing his prior petition, he was following the advice of his former attorney and did not understand the consequences of this decision. We are not persuaded.

         ‘‘For the purposes of . . . [§ 52-470 (e)], good cause includes, but is not limited to, the discovery of new evidence which materially affects the merits of the case and which could not have been discovered by the exercise of due diligence in time to meet the requirements of subsection (c) or (d) of this section.'' General Statutes § 52-470 (e). The parties also agree that good cause has been defined as a ‘‘substantial reason amounting in law to a legal excuse for failing to perform an act required by law . . . [a] [l]egally sufficient ground or ...


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