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Santos v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

November 13, 2018

ALEXIS SANTOS
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Argued September 25, 2018

         Amended 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 denying the petition, from which the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          James E. Mortimer, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Linda F. Currie-Zeffiro, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's attorney, and Eva B. Lenczewski, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          Lavine, Sheldon and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The petitioner, Alexis Santos, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court improperly concluded that his trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance by failing to retain an expert witness to assist in his defense and by failing to present the testimony of certain fact witnesses. We affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

         The following procedural history, as set forth by the habeas court, is relevant to this appeal. ‘‘On September 24, 2012, in the Waterbury judicial district, in the matter of State v. Santos, Docket No. CR-11-401131, following a jury trial, the petitioner was convicted of four counts of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 (a) (2), four counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (2) and one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (1). In docket number CR-11-402391, the petitioner was convicted of one count of sexual assault in the first degree, one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (2), one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (1) and one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-73a (a) (1) (A). On November 30, 2012, the trial court, Crawford, J., sentenced the petitioner to a total effective term of twenty years of incarceration followed by twenty years of special parole.'' This court affirmed the petitioner's conviction. See State v. Santos, 148 Conn.App. 907, 86 A.3d 1099, cert. denied, 311 Conn. 944, 89 A.3d 351 (2014).

         The petitioner thereafter initiated this matter by the filing of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In his operative petition, he claimed that his trial counsel, Tashun Bowden-Lewis, rendered ineffective assistance. Following an evidentiary hearing, the habeas court rejected the petitioner's claims by way of a memorandum of decision filed April 5, 2017. The habeas court concluded that the petitioner had failed to prove that Bowden-Lewis' representation of him was deficient or that he was prejudiced by any aspect of her allegedly deficient performance, and thus denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On April 21, 2017, the habeas court granted the petitioner's petition for certification to appeal.

         On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court erred in rejecting his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. We have examined the record on appeal, the briefs and arguments of the parties, and conclude that the judgment of the habeas court should be affirmed. Because the habeas court thoroughly addressed the arguments raised in this appeal, we adopt its well reasoned decision as a statement of the facts and the applicable law on the issues. See Santos v. Commissioner of Correction, Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Docket No. CV-14-4005961-S, (April 5, 2017) (reprinted at 186 Conn.App. 110, A.3d). Any further discussion by this court would serve no useful purpose. See, e.g., Woodruff v. Hemingway, 297 Conn. 317, 321, 2 A.3d 857 (2010); Brander v. Stoddard, 173 Conn.App. 730, 732, 164 A.3d 889, cert. denied, 327 Conn. 928, 171 A.3d 456 (2017).

         The judgment is affirmed.

         APPENDIX

         ALEXIS SANTOS V. COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION[*]

         Superior Court, Judicial District of Tolland File No. CV-14-4005961-S

         Memorandum filed April 5, 2017

         Proceedings

         Memorandum of decision after completed habeas corpus trial to court. Judgment for respondent.

         James E. Mortimer, assigned counsel, for the petitioner.

         Eva B. Lenczewski, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the respondent.

         OPINION

          OLIVER, J.

         The petitioner, Alexis Santos, brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that his criminal defense attorney provided him ineffective assistance in violation of the state and federal constitutions, and seeking to have his convictions vacated. Specifically, the petitioner claims, in his amended petition filed July 22, 2016, that his right to effective legal representation was denied in that his counsel, Attorney Tashun Bowden-Lewis, committed a number of errors at trial.

         The petitioner claims that his right to effective legal representation at trial was denied in that his underlying trial counsel was constitutionally deficientin the following ways:

a. She did not retain, consult with and present the testimony ofa mental health professional with an expertise in investigating and evaluating child sexual abuse allegations in order to:
1. Call into question the reliability of victim M.H.'s disclosures;
2. Call into question the reliability of victim Y.H.'s disclosure;
3. Rebut the testimony of prosecution witness Theresa Montelli concerning ‘‘common characteristics and behaviors'' of sexually abused children;
4. Rebut the testimony of prosecution expert witness Theresa Montelli concerning the statistical probabilities of children and recantation;
5. Provide a consultation source to counsel so as to avoid eliciting damaging information on cross-examination concerning recantations;
6. Provide an alternative innocent explanation for false allegations; and
7. Rebut the credibility of the forensic interviewer re: failing to explore alternative innocent explanations.
b. She failed to adequately cross-examine, impeach and otherwise challenge the testimony of the victim M.H., concerning her motive, interest and bias against the petitioner;
c. She failed to adequately object to the introduction of M.H.'s forensic interview based on hearsay grounds;
d. She failed to adequately challenge the testimony of Y.H. concerning her motive, interest and bias ...

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