122 A.3d 1 (Conn. 2015), SC 17413, State v. Santiago

Docket NºSC 17413
Citation122 A.3d 1, 318 Conn. 1
Opinion JudgePALMER, J.
Party NameSTATE OF CONNECTICUT v. EDUARDO SANTIAGO [*]
AttorneyMark Rademacher, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant). Harry Weller, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom were Matthew A. Weiner, deputy assistant state's attorney, and, on the brief, Kevin T. Kane, chief state's attorney, Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, Susan C. Mark...
Judge PanelRogers, C. J., and Norcott, Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald and Espinosa, Js.[*] PALMER, J. In this opinion NORCOTT, EVELEIGH and McDONALD, Js., concurred. ROGERS, C. J., dissenting. ZARELLA, J., dissenting. ESPINOSA, J., dissenting. In this opinion NORCOTT, EVELEIGH and McDONALD, Js., concur...
Case DateAugust 25, 2015
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut

Page 1

122 A.3d 1 (Conn. 2015)

318 Conn. 1

STATE OF CONNECTICUT

v.

EDUARDO SANTIAGO [*]

SC 17413

Supreme Court of Connecticut

August 25, 2015

Argued April 23, 2013.

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Substitute information charging the defendant with one count each of the crimes of capital felony, murder, felony murder, conspiracy to commit murder, stealing a firearm, and larceny in the sixth degree, and with two counts each of the crimes of burglary in the first degree and conspiracy to commit burglary in the first degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, where the state filed a notice of the aggravating factor that it intended to prove during the penalty phase of the proceedings and where the defendant filed a notice of mitigating factors; subsequently, the case was tried to the jury before Lavine, J.; verdict of guilty; thereafter, during the penalty phase of the proceedings, the jury found that the state had proven the existence of the aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt, at least one or more jurors found that the defendant had proven the existence of one or more mitigating factors by a preponderance of the evidence, and the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating factor outweighed the mitigating factor or factors; subsequently, the court, Lavine, J., denied the defendant's postverdict motions to impose a life sentence, to declare the death penalty in this state unconstitutional, to impose a life sentence because of the allegedly arbitrary imposition of the sentence of death in this case, and for an order barring the defendant's execution because of the discriminatory nature of the state's death penalty system, and also denied the defendant's postverdict motions concerning allegedly improper jury deliberations and juror misconduct, and the improper exclusion of a mitigating factor alleged by the defense; thereafter, the court, Lavine, J., rendered judgment of guilty and sentenced the defendant to death by lethal injection and to a consecutive term of imprisonment of forty-five years and ninety days, and the defendant appealed to this court, which reversed in part the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for a new penalty phase hearing; subsequently, this court granted the defendant's motion for reconsideration and ordered supplemental briefing and additional oral argument on the issue of whether legislation enacted after the imposition of the defendant's original sentence barred the imposition of the death penalty in his case.

Reversed in part; judgment directed.

SYLLABUS

The defendant was convicted of, inter alia, capital felony of murder for pecuniary gain and sentenced to death in connection with the shooting death of the victim in 2000. The defendant appealed to this court, challenging his conviction as well as the imposition of the death penalty. This court upheld the defendant's conviction and declined to overturn prior precedent holding that the death penalty is not a per se violation of the Connecticut constitution. This court concluded, however, that the trial court improperly had failed to disclose to the defendant certain records that were mitigating in nature, reversed the death sentence, and remanded the case to the trial court for a new penalty phase hearing. Approximately six weeks prior to the release of this court's decision in the defendant's appeal, the legislature passed and the governor signed legislation (P.A. 12-5) that repealed the death penalty for all crimes committed on or after April 25, 2012, but that retained the death penalty for capital crimes committed before that date. Thereafter, this court granted the defendant's motion for reconsideration and request for supplemental briefing and further oral argument on the issue of whether the prospective repeal of the death penalty rendered the imposition of the death penalty in the present case unconstitutional. The defendant claimed, inter alia, that P.A. 12-5 created an impermissible and arbitrary distinction between individuals who committed murders before and after April 25, 2012, in light of the prospective abolition of capital punishment, and that the enactment of P.A. 12-5 indicated that the death penalty no longer comported with contemporary standards of decency in Connecticut and no longer served a legitimate penological purpose. Held that the state's death penalty, following its prospective repeal in 2012, and as currently applied, no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose, and, therefore, the execution of offenders who committed capital felonies prior to April 25, 2012, would violate the state constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

1. The due process clauses of the Connecticut constitution (art. I, § § 8 and 9) prohibit cruel and unusual punishment; under the framework for evaluating challenges to allegedly cruel and unusual punishment that this court has broadly adopted as a matter of state constitutional law, inherently barbaric punishments, excessive and disproportionate punishments, and arbitrary or discriminatory punishments are prohibited; from the seventeenth century until the adoption of the state constitution in 1818, the citizens of Connecticut enjoyed significant freedoms from cruel and unusual punishment that were safeguarded by the courts and enshrined in this state's preconstitutional statutory and common law; the fact that the framers of the 1818 constitution chose not to include an express cruel and unusual punishments clause in the state constitution did not suggest that this liberty was uncherished; under the state constitution, whether a challenged punishment is cruel and unusual is to be judged according to evolving standards of decency, and this court has an independent duty to determine that the challenged punishment remains constitutionally viable as the sensibilities of Connecticut citizens evolve; moreover, under the state constitution, the pertinent standards by which this court judges the fairness, decency, and efficacy of a punishment are necessarily those of Connecticut.

2. This court's review of the objective indicia that have been deemed relevant to a determination of whether a punishment comports with society's evolving standards of decency led the court to conclude that, following the enactment of P.A. 12-5, Connecticut's current capital punishment scheme no longer comports with our state's contemporary standards of decency and, thus, offends the state constitutional prohibition against excessive and disproportionate punishment: the history of capital punishment in Connecticut has demonstrated a long, steady devolution of such punishment in this state, including a decrease in the number of crimes and categories of offenders being subject to such punishment, few recent executions, and recent, repeated efforts to abolish the death penalty; the prospective repeal of the death penalty by the elected branches of government provided strong support for the conclusion that capital punishment in Connecticut no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency; the legislative history of P.A. 12-5 and an official statement by the governor that accompanied the signing of P.A. 12-5 indicated that those officials who supported the act had come to oppose capital punishment on the basis of a categorical opposition to the death penalty or over concerns that an innocent person could executed, that the death penalty is imposed in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner, or that death sentences retraumatize the families of murder victims, thereby indicating that these officials were motivated, at least in part, by a principled belief that state sanctioned executions were no longer a necessary or appropriate form of punishment, even for the most heinous crimes; Connecticut imposes death sentences that are ultimately sustained on appeal at a rate that is among the lowest in the nation, only one convicted capital felon has been executed in Connecticut in the past fifty-five years, and only after he voluntarily waived his appeals and habeas remedies, there was no reasonable likelihood that any of the inmates currently on death row in Connecticut will be subject to execution in the foreseeable future, and the state's chief prosecutor had suggested in testimony before the legislature that, following the prospective repeal of the death penalty, he no longer would consider it appropriate to seek the death penalty for any remaining death eligible crimes; the number of states that have repealed the death penalty has increased recently, no state or nation that has repealed the death penalty prospectively ever has carried out another execution, only a few states in the northeastern region still permit capital punishment, and, even in those jurisdictions in which the death penalty is legal, both death sentences and executions have continued to decline; and the American Law Institute, which conducted a two year study on the workability of model death penalty legislation, recognized that the preconditions for an adequately administered system of capital punishment do not currently exist and that such a system likely is unachievable.

3. This court concluded that, following the enactment of P.A. 12-5, capital punishment no longer measurably contributes to the legitimate penological goals of deterrence and retribution, and, therefore, capital punishment in Connecticut violates article first, § § 8 and 9, of the Connecticut constitution: in light of the abolition of capital punishment for all future crimes in Connecticut, the death penalty can no longer serve as a deterrent for such...

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78 practice notes
  • 136 A.3d 24 (Conn.App. 2016), AC 37293, Brenmor Props., LLC v. Planning & Zoning Comm'n of Lisbon
    • United States
    • Connecticut Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • February 2, 2016
    ...(" a presumption of validity is accorded to municipal ordinances" ); see also State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 72 n.62, 122 A.3d 1 (presumption that legislative body acted for legitimate reasons), rehearing denied, 319 Conn. 912, 124 A.3d 496 (2015); Tine v. Zon......
  • 467 P.3d 1102 (Ariz.App. Div. 2 2020), 2 CA-SA 2019-0045, Fox-Embrey v. Neal
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • June 4, 2020
    ...decision in State v. Santiago, 305 Conn. 101, 49 A.3d 566, 647-48, 651 (2012), superseded on other grounds, 318 Conn. 1, 122 A.3d 1 (2015), on the issue of disclosure of protected records in this context instructive. There, the court acknowledged the "due proce......
  • 164 A.3d 9 (Conn.App. 2016), AC 37430, State v. Williams-Bey
    • United States
    • Connecticut Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • August 23, 2016
    ...governmental infliction of cruel and unusual punishments." (Citations omitted; footnote omitted.) State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 17-18, 122 A.3d 1 (2015). We must determine whether, under these sections of the state constitution, parole eligibility under § 54-......
  • JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Essaghof, 101515 CTSUP, FSTCV095010920S
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court of Connecticut
    • October 15, 2015
    ...marked as a full exhibit. Ex. 1. U.S. Bank, National Association v. Schaeffer, 160 Conn.App. 138, 142, 151-52 (2015); State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 343, 122 A.3d 1 (Dissent) 2015; State v. Miranda, 317 Conn. 741, 748, fn.10, 120 A.3d 490 (2015); Department of Transportation v. White Oak C......
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72 cases
  • 136 A.3d 24 (Conn.App. 2016), AC 37293, Brenmor Props., LLC v. Planning & Zoning Comm'n of Lisbon
    • United States
    • Connecticut Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • February 2, 2016
    ...(" a presumption of validity is accorded to municipal ordinances" ); see also State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 72 n.62, 122 A.3d 1 (presumption that legislative body acted for legitimate reasons), rehearing denied, 319 Conn. 912, 124 A.3d 496 (2015); Tine v. Zon......
  • 467 P.3d 1102 (Ariz.App. Div. 2 2020), 2 CA-SA 2019-0045, Fox-Embrey v. Neal
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • June 4, 2020
    ...decision in State v. Santiago, 305 Conn. 101, 49 A.3d 566, 647-48, 651 (2012), superseded on other grounds, 318 Conn. 1, 122 A.3d 1 (2015), on the issue of disclosure of protected records in this context instructive. There, the court acknowledged the "due proce......
  • 164 A.3d 9 (Conn.App. 2016), AC 37430, State v. Williams-Bey
    • United States
    • Connecticut Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • August 23, 2016
    ...governmental infliction of cruel and unusual punishments." (Citations omitted; footnote omitted.) State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 17-18, 122 A.3d 1 (2015). We must determine whether, under these sections of the state constitution, parole eligibility under § 54-......
  • JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Essaghof, 101515 CTSUP, FSTCV095010920S
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court of Connecticut
    • October 15, 2015
    ...marked as a full exhibit. Ex. 1. U.S. Bank, National Association v. Schaeffer, 160 Conn.App. 138, 142, 151-52 (2015); State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 343, 122 A.3d 1 (Dissent) 2015; State v. Miranda, 317 Conn. 741, 748, fn.10, 120 A.3d 490 (2015); Department of Transportation v. White Oak C......
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1 firm's commentaries
  • Maine Regulation of Public Utilities: Second Edition
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • June 28, 2018
    ...Elec. Co. v. Successors of Kittery, 219 A.2d 728, 738 (Me. 1 966). 585 Office of Pub. Advocate v. Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 2015 ME 113, ¶ 22, 122 A.3d 95 9.586 Because utilities may use one method of depreciation in keeping their regulated books of account and another for tax purposes, the preci......
5 books & journal articles
  • THE LAW OF ABOLITION.
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 107 Nbr. 4, September 2017
    • September 22, 2017
    ...People v. Anderson, 493 P.2d 880 (Cal. 1972)). Connecticut has not abrogated judicial abolition of the death penalty in State v. Santiago, 122 A.3d 1, 10-11 (Conn. 2015) [hereinafter Santiago II], although three legislators have introduced legislation that would do so. Dave Collins & As......
  • The Death Penalty & the Dignity Clauses
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    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 102-2, January 2017
    • January 1, 2017
    ...delay). 26. Glossip v. Gross, 135 S. Ct. 2726, 2746 (2015). 27. Id. at 2776–77 (Breyer, J., dissenting). 28. See State v. Santiago, 122 A.3d 1, 84–85 (Conn. 2015). Connecticut’s legislature repealed the death penalty prospectively only in 2012, leaving 11 men on death row. Connecticut, DEAT......
  • New Majoritarian Constitutionalism
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    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 103-3, March 2018
    • March 1, 2018
    ...of Apr. 25, 2012, Pub. Act No. 12-5, 2012 Conn. Acts 13, 13–27 (Reg. Sess.) (repealing the death penalty prospectively); State v. Santiago, 122 A.3d 1, 13 (Conn. 2015) (applying the prospective repeal to already imposed capital sentences). D.C.: District of Columbia Death Penalty Repeal Act......
  • THE STATE OF THE DEATH PENALTY.
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    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 94 Nbr. 3, January 2019
    • January 1, 2019
    ...536 U.S. 304, 315 (2002)). (177) Glossip v. Gross, 135 S. Ct. 2726, 2772-73 (2015) (Breyer, J., dissenting). (178) See State v. Santiago, 122 A.3d 1, 58, 81 (Conn. 2015) (noting that some counties have rarely or almost never imposed the death penalty in the state and that nationally, less t......
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