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State v. Moore

Supreme Court of Connecticut

December 24, 2019

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
DARNELL MOORE

          Argued January 18, 2019

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crime of murder, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London, where the court, Jongbloed, J., denied the defendant's motions to strike the jury panel and to suppress certain evidence; thereafter, the case was tried to the jury; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, Beach, Keller and Norcott, Js., which affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Appeal dismissed.

          Kenneth Rosenthal, with whom, on the brief, was Allison M. Near, for the appellant (defendant).

          Harry Weller, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael L. Regan, state's attorney, and David J. Smith, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Christine Perra Rapillo, chief public defender, and Ann M. Parrent, assistant public defender, filed a brief for the Office of the Chief Public Defender as amicus curiae.

          Robinson, C. J., and Palmer, McDonald, D'Auria, Mullins and Kahn, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The defendant, Darnell Moore, appeals, upon our grant of his petition for certification, [1]from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming his conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a. State v. Moore, 169 Conn.App. 470, 473, 151 A.3d 412 (2016). On appeal, the defendant challenges the Appellate Court's conclusion that the trial court properly denied his motion to strike the voir dire panel on the ground that he failed to provide any statistical analysis or data to prove that the lack of African-American males on that panel rendered it not a fair cross section of the New London judicial district from which it was drawn, in violation of the sixth amendment to the United States constitution. See Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357, 364, 99 S.Ct. 664, 58 L.Ed.2d 579 (1979); State v. Gibbs, 254 Conn. 578, 588, 758 A.2d 327 (2000). The defendant contends specifically that the Appellate Court incorrectly determined that the census data he proffered about the percentage of all African-Americans in the population of both Connecticut as a whole and the New London judicial district specifically did not constitute probative evidence with respect to the inquiry at issue, which was limited to the percentage of African-American males eligible for jury service, because, ‘‘[w]ithout an ability to rely on census data, [he] had no recourse as to how he might demonstrate a fair cross section claim.'' The defendant also argues that the Appellate Court improperly declined to exercise its supervisory power over the administration of justice to further the purpose of General Statutes § 51-232 (c)[2] by requiring the jury administrator to collect and maintain racial and demographic data for all jurors because, ‘‘without that information, there is no mechanism by which . . . any defendant can effectively present evidence of the number of distinctive group members in the jury pool for the pertinent judicial district.''

         After examining the entire record on appeal and considering the briefs and oral arguments of the parties, we have determined that the appeal in this case should be dismissed on the ground that certification was improvidently granted.

         Beyond dismissing the appeal, however, we offer an additional observation with respect to the defendant's request, supported by the amicus curiae Office of the Chief Public Defender, to exercise our supervisory authority over the administration of justice to enhance the diversity of our state's juries by requiring the jury administrator to collect racial and demographic information about prospective jurors, including by (1) amending the juror questionnaire to mandate the inclusion of racial and ethnic background, rather than the current practice under § 51-232 (c) of making the provision of such information voluntary, which might skew the data collected, and (2) maintaining statistical information based on that data prior to the destruction of the questionnaires in accordance with Judicial Branch policy intended to protect juror confidentiality. See, e.g., Barlow v. Commissioner of Correction, 328 Conn. 610, 612-15, 182 A.3d 78 (2018) (providing additional explanation in dismissing appeal as improvidently granted). As we noted in State v. Raynor, 334 Conn.,, A.3d (2019), a companion case raising similar issues in the context of claims under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), the fact that the legislature has acted in this area by enacting § 51-232 (c)-which specifically makes the provision of racial and ethnic data optional for the juror-renders us reluctant to exercise our supervisory authority in the sweeping manner sought by the defendant and the amicus curiae Office of the Chief Public Defender. Instead, we anticipate these issues will be considered by the Jury Selection Task Force, which the Chief Justice will appoint pursuant to our decision in State v. Holmes, 334 Conn.,, A.3d (2019), to suggest those changes to court policies, rules, and legislation necessary to ensure that our state court juries are representative of Connecticut's diverse population.

         The appeal is dismissed.

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