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State v. Marcus H.

Appellate Court of Connecticut

June 4, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
v.
MARCUS H.[*]

         Argued January 14, 2019

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Judicial District of New London, Jongbloed, J.

Page 608

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 609

          Lisa J. Steele, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

         Jennifer F. Miller, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were, Michael L. Regan, state’s attorney, and Sarah Bowman, assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Prescott, Bright and Norcott, Js.

          OPINION

         PRESCOTT, J.

Page 610

          [190 Conn.App. 334] The defendant, Marcus H., appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60d, two counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (1), two counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-63, reckless driving in violation of General Statutes § 14-222, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of General Statutes § 14-227a (a) (1), operating a motor vehicle with an elevated blood alcohol content in violation of General Statutes § 14-227a (a) (2),[1] interfering with an [190 Conn.App. 335] officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167a, and increasing speed in an attempt to escape or elude a police officer in violation of General Statutes § 14-223 (b). The defendant claims on appeal that the court improperly (1) violated his constitutional right to counsel by denying his application for the appointment of a public defender and (2) violated his constitutional right to due process when it did not order, sua sponte, a judicial marshal to remove his leg shackles during the trial.[2] We are not persuaded by the defendant’s claims and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of conviction.[3]

          The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. In the early morning of May 25, 2014, a motorist driving behind the defendant observed that his car [190 Conn.App. 336] remained stopped through two cycles of a stoplight. The motorist pulled over, exited her car, and approached the passenger side of the defendant’s car. She observed the defendant sleeping or unconscious in the driver seat and two young girls in car seats in the back of the car. The motorist

Page 611

woke up the defendant, who then drove off.

          Due to concern for the children’s safety, the motorist called the police and informed them that she thought that the defendant was intoxicated. On the basis of the information provided by the motorist, the police station issued a "be on the lookout" report over their radio system for a black Acura with a black male operator and two females in the back seat. Officer Jason Pudvah saw a car that matched the description from the report idling at a nearby gas station. Pudvah approached the car and observed the defendant slumped over in the driver’s seat and his two and four year old daughters in the backseat. Pudvah knocked on the window and spoke with the defendant. After requesting the defendant’s information, Pudvah returned to his vehicle. While Pudvah was speaking with police dispatch, the defendant drove off at a high rate of speed.

         Pudvah initially pursued the defendant but stopped due to fear for the children’s safety and in the hope that the defendant would slow down. Further down the road, the defendant lost control of his car and crashed into a telephone pole. The car became airborne and landed upside down in a residential swimming pool. As a result of the accident, the defendant’s younger daughter suffered serious injuries to her arm and his older daughter sustained an ankle injury.

         After the trial, during which the defendant represented himself, a jury found the defendant guilty of all charges, and the court rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict. Thereafter, the defendant pleaded [190 Conn.App. 337] guilty to being a subsequent offender to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in violation of § 14-227a (g) (2). The trial court, Jongbloed, J., sentenced the defendant to a total effective term of twenty-three years of incarceration, execution suspended after fourteen and one-half years, followed by five years of probation with special conditions. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

          I

          The defendant claims that the trial court violated his constitutional right to counsel and, therefore, to due process, by denying his application for the appointment of a public defender. We disagree.

         The following additional facts are relevant to this claim. On the first day of jury selection on February 18, 2016,[4] the defendant requested a continuance to replace his private attorney, Attorney John Williams, with another private attorney. Specifically, he claimed that he had a dispute with Attorney Williams regarding payment of attorney’s fees, and he did not believe that Attorney Williams would represent him properly. Attorney Williams informed the court that he had "told [the defendant] expressly and more than once that under no circumstances would his [lack of payment] in any way, shape, or form affect [his] commitment to [the defendant]." The court denied the motion for a ...


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