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Cooke v. Commissioner of Correction

Appellate Court of Connecticut

December 17, 2019


         Argued September 23, 2019

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          The Superior Court, Judicial District of Tolland, Cobb, J.

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          Ian Cooke, self-represented, the appellant (petitioner).

         Steven R. Strom, assistant attorney general, with whom were Matthew A. Weiner, assistant state’s attorney, and, on the brief, William Tong, attorney general, Michael L. Regan, state’s attorney, and Lawrence J. Tytla, supervisory assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

         Lavine, Devlin and Beach, Js.


         DEVLIN, J.

         [194 Conn.App. 810] The petitioner, Ian Cooke, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner asserts that (1) his claims were properly certified for appellate review by the habeas court, (2) the cumulative effect of his trial counsel’s errors deprived him of effective assistance of counsel, (3) his trial counsel was ineffective in not ensuring that he was competent to stand trial, and (4) the court erred in failing to issue a writ of mandamus directing the Office of the Chief Public Defender to provide him with legal assistance to pursue the present appeal. The respondent, in turn, argues that the habeas court lacked jurisdiction to grant the petition for certification to appeal more than four months after its initial denial of certification to appeal. In response, the petitioner contends that the court had continuing jurisdiction to grant the petition for certification to appeal. We agree that the court had continuing jurisdiction to grant the petition for certification to appeal, but conclude that it did not abuse its discretion in denying both the petition for a writ of habeas corpus and the petition for a writ of mandamus. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. Following a jury trial, the petitioner was convicted of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a, capital felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54b (7), and possession of a sawed-off shotgun in violation of General Statutes § 53a-211 (a). The court sentenced him to a total effective term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The petitioner’s conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Cooke, 134 Conn.App. 573, 581, 39 A.3d 1178, cert. denied, 305 Conn. 903, 43 A.3d 662 (2012). In its resolution of that appeal, this court set forth the following facts, which are relevant to this appeal.

         [194 Conn.App. 811] "Sometime after 3 p.m. on May 27, 2006, the town of Groton dispatch center received a 911 call from 1021 Pleasant

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Valley Road reporting that one Gregory Giesing had been shot at his residence. Police officers, including Officer Sean Griffin, arrived at the scene, and Gregory Giesing’s wife, Laurel Giesing, reported that she had observed in her driveway after she had found her husband shot a ‘dark, silver grayish’ Jeep with thick piping on the front. After going through the residence to ensure that it was safe, Griffin went to the lower unit of the residence and found Derek Von Winkle, Gregory Giesing’s stepbrother, who also had been shot. Shortly thereafter, fire and medical personnel arrived.

          "One of the responders from the fire department informed Griffin that there had been a stabbing at the Latriumphe Apartments, which was near the Giesings’ residence. The police, including Griffin, responded to that location, entered an apartment through an open sliding door and found on the living room floor the [petitioner], whose hand and cheek were injured. The police spoke with the [petitioner’s] father, who had called 911 and had told the dispatcher that his son may have been stabbed by a drug dealer or drug dealers. Based upon the conversation between the police and the [petitioner’s] father, Griffin then went outside to the parking lot to look for the Jeep that Laurel Giesing had described. Griffin located a silver gray Jeep with a ‘brush guard,’ and observed blood on the exterior driver’s side and on the driver’s side interior compartment of the vehicle. Laurel Giesing was later shown the vehicle and, after examining it, stated that it looked ‘very similar’ to and ‘the same’ as the vehicle she saw at her residence after her husband had been shot. Additionally, a search of the general outside area, including a wooded area, around the [petitioner’s] apartment revealed apparently bloodstained duffle bags containing illegal drugs and a disassembled shotgun.

         [194 Conn.App. 812] "An associate medical examiner for the state determined that Gregory Giesing died of a gunshot wound to the chest. The medical examiner concluded that Von Winkle died of a shotgun wound to the neck and chest....

         "Several items of evidence, including three known samples of DNA from Von Winkle, Gregory Giesing and the [petitioner], were submitted to the state forensic science laboratory for DNA analysis. Nicholas Yang, a forensic science examiner, performed the tests. At trial, he testified as to his findings. Yang determined that the [petitioner’s] DNA was consistent with that found on the exterior of a duffle bag found outside the [petitioner’s] apartment complex, the doorknob to Von Winkle’s apartment, multiple locations on pants retrieved from Gregory Giesing’s body, the wooden deck area of Gregory Giesing’s residence, a part of the floor mat of the Jeep and on various parts of the disassembled shotgun. The [petitioner] could not be eliminated as a source of DNA on the zipper of a Dudley bag, a reddish-brown stain on a knife found near Gregory Giesing’s body, a blood-like substance taken from the interior door of Gregory Giesing’s apartment, the steering wheel of the Jeep, a hacksaw from the apartment in which the [petitioner] was found, two swabs from the floor mat of the Jeep and the brake pedal from the Jeep." (Citations omitted; footnote omitted.) Id., at 575-77, 39 A.3d 1178.

          On August 4, 2011, the petitioner filed a self-represented petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Subsequently, Attorney John Williams was appointed to represent the petitioner. Williams never filed an amended petition. When asked by the habeas court, Cobb, J., to clarify the claims raised in the petition, Williams presented three claims that the petitioner’s trial counsel,

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Attorney John Walkley, was ineffective by: "(1) failing to adequately investigate and prepare the case for trial, (2) failing to adequately challenge the prosecution’s case and present the defense’s case at trial and [194 Conn.App. 813] (3) failing to assure that the petitioner was competent to stand trial." In addition, the petitioner’s brief to the habeas court raised two more claims that ...

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