February 5, 2019
petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior
Court in the judicial district of Tolland, where the court,
Hon. Edward J. Mullarkey, judge trial referee, sua
sponte, rendered judgment dismissing the petition, from which
the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to
this court. Affirmed.
K. Garg, for the appellant (petitioner).
Zenobia G. Graham-Days, assistant attorney general, with
whom, on the brief, was George Jepsen, former attorney
general, for the appellee (respondent).
Keller, Elgo and Harper, Js.
petitioner, Trevelle Dinham, appeals from the judgment of the
habeas court dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas
corpus. On appeal, the petitioner argues that the court
improperly dismissed his claims for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction and for the failure to state a claim upon which
habeas relief can be granted. Specifically, the petitioner
argues that the court improperly dismissed his claims that
(1) he relied on ‘‘governmental
representations'' that he would receive risk
reduction credit when he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in
the first degree with a firearm, (2) the respondent, the
Commissioner of Correction, misconstrued and misapplied
several statutes pertaining to the petitioner receiving a
parole suitability hearing, earning risk reduction credit in
the future, and applying risk reduction credit toward the
advancement of the petitioner's parole eligibility date,
and (3) the respondent's customary practices have created
a vested liberty interest in receiving a parole suitability
hearing, earning future risk reduction credits, and applying
risk reduction credits to advance his parole eligibility
date. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of
the habeas court.
following facts and procedural history are relevant to the
resolution of this appeal. On April 2, 2012, the petitioner
pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter in the first
degree with a firearm in violation of General Statutes §
53a-55a, which he committed on or about September 24, 1999,
for which he was sentenced to twenty-eight years of
imprisonment. Thereafter, the then self-represented
petitioner commenced this action by filing a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus. On November 15, 2017, the petitioner,
after obtaining counsel, filed an eighteen count amended
habeas petition. On March 19, 2018, the court, sua sponte,
dismissed the amended petition for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction and for the failure to state a claim upon which
habeas relief may be granted. See Practice Book §
23-29. Instead of addressing the petitioner's
claims individually, the court broadly determined that it
lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the habeas petition
and that the petition had failed to state a claim upon which
habeas relief can be granted.The court granted the
petitioner's petition for certification to
appeal. The petitioner timely filed the present
appeal, challenging the dismissal of ten of his claims.
Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.
addressing the petitioner's individual claims, we first
set forth the standards of review and relevant legal
principles applicable to the petitioner's appeal.
‘‘Subject matter jurisdiction involves the
authority of the court to adjudicate the type of controversy
presented by the action before it. . . . [A] court lacks
discretion to consider the merits of a case over which it is
without jurisdiction . . . . The subject matter jurisdiction
requirement may not be waived by any party, and also may be
raised by a party, or by the court sua sponte, at any stage
of the proceedings, including on appeal.'' (Internal
quotation marks omitted.) Pentland v. Commissioner of
Correction, 176 Conn.App. 779, 784-85, 169 A.3d 851,
cert. denied, 327 Conn. 978, 174 A.3d 800 (2017).
‘‘[I]n order to invoke successfully the
jurisdiction of the habeas court, a petitioner must allege an
interest sufficient to give rise to habeas relief. . . . We
have long held that because [a] determination regarding a
trial court's subject matter jurisdiction is a question
of law, our review is plenary.'' (Citation omitted;
internal quotation marks omitted.) Perez v. Commissioner
of Correction, 326 Conn. 357, 368, 163 A.3d 597 (2017).
‘‘With respect to the habeas court's
jurisdiction, [t]he scope of relief available through a
petition for habeas corpus is limited. In order to invoke the
trial court's subject matter jurisdiction in a habeas
action, a petitioner must allege that he is illegally
confined or has been deprived of his liberty. . . . In other
words, a petitioner must allege an interest sufficient to
give rise to habeas relief. . . . In order to . . . qualify
as a constitutionally protected liberty [interest] . . . the
interest must be one that is assured either by statute,
judicial decree, or regulation.'' (Internal quotation
marks omitted.) Boria v. Commissioner of Correction,
186 Conn.App. 332, 342, 199 A.3d 1127 (2018).
[w]hether a habeas court properly dismissed a petition
pursuant to Practice Book § 23-29 (2), on the ground
that it fails to state a claim upon which habeas corpus
relief can be granted, presents a question of law over which
our review is plenary.'' (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) Perez v. Commissioner of Correction,
supra, 326 Conn. 368. ‘‘In reviewing whether a
petition states a claim for habeas relief, we accept its
allegations as true.'' Coleman v. Commissioner of
Correction, 137 Conn.App. 51, 55, 46 A.3d 1050 (2012).
For ease of discussion, we next provide a brief summary of
the relevant laws pertaining to the petitioner's ability
to receive a parole suitability hearing, to earn future risk
reduction credit, and to apply his earned risk reduction
credit toward the advancement of his parole eligibility date.
to No. 04-234 of the 2004 Public Acts, codified at General
Statutes § 54-125a (e), the Board of Pardons and Paroles
(board) was required to hold a parole suitability
hearing for any person eligible for parole who had completed
85 percent of his or her sentence. General Statutes (Rev. to
2013) § 54-125a (e) subsequently was amended by No.
13-247 of the 2013 Public Acts (P.A. 13-247), to make the
board's parole suitability hearing discretionary, rather
than mandatory. If the board declines to hold a hearing,
however, § 54-125a (e) requires the board to document
specific reasons for declining to hold a hearing and to
provide those reasons to the person denied a hearing.
risk reduction credits, our Supreme Court has summarized the
relevant statutes as follows: ‘‘In July, 2011 . .
. General Statutes § 18-98e became effective, pursuant
to which the respondent had discretion to award risk
reduction credit toward a reduction of an inmate's
sentence, up to five days per month, for positive conduct.
General Statutes § 18-98e (a) and (b). The respondent
also was vested with discretion to revoke such credit, even
credit yet to be earned, for good cause. See General Statutes
§ 18-98e (b). At the same time, the legislature amended
the parole eligibility provision to provide: ‘A person
convicted of . . . an offense . . . where the underlying
facts and circumstances of the offense involve the use,
attempted use or threatened use of physical force against
another person shall be ineligible for parole under
subsection (a) of this section until such person has served
not less than eighty-five per cent of the definite sentence
imposed less any risk reduction credit earned under the
provisions of section 18-98e.' . . . General
Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 54-125a (b) (2), as amended by
Public Acts 2011, No. 11-51, § 25 (P.A. 11-51). The
subsection of § 54-125a addressing parole hearings was
similarly amended to account for earned risk reduction
credit. General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 54-125a (e),
as amended by P.A. 11-51, § 25. Accordingly, under the
2011 amendments, earned risk reduction credit was to be
applied to an inmate's definite sentence to advance the
inmate's end of sentence date, and the parole eligibility
date calculated as a percentage of the sentence would advance
in similar measure. . . .
the 2011 amendments to § 54-125a and § 18-98e, any
risk reduction credit earned by an inmate, and not
subsequently revoked, would have both reduced his sentence
and rendered him eligible for a hearing to determine whether
he should be granted parole after he had served 85 percent of
that reduced sentence.
July 1, 2013, the legislature again amended § 54-125a.
Specifically, with regard to offenses like one of those of
which the petitioner was convicted, the legislature
eliminated the language that permitted the parole eligibility
date to be advanced by the application of any earned risk
reduction credit. See [Public Acts 2013, No. 13-3, § 59
(P.A. 13-3)].'' (Emphasis in original; footnote
altered.) Perez v. Commissioner of Correction,
supra, 326 Conn. 363-65.
Statutes (Rev. to 2015) § 18-98e (a) subsequently was
amended by No. 15-216 of the 2015 Public Acts (P.A. 15-216),
that inmates convicted of certain violent crimes, including
manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm, were
ineligible to earn risk reduction credits in the
future. Mindful of the foregoing ...