247 A.2d 502 (Conn.Cir.A.D. 1968), CR 10-25818, State v. Simmonds

Docket NºCR 10-25818.
Citation247 A.2d 502, 5 Conn.Cir.Ct. 178
Opinion JudgeJACOBS, Judge. In this opinion KINMONTH, J., concurred. DEARINGTON, Judge (concurring).
Party NameSTATE of Connecticut v. Joan SIMMONDS.
AttorneyJohn J. Donahue, Norwich, for appellant (defendant). James J. Murphy, Jr., Asst. Pros. Atty., for appellee (state).
Judge PanelDEARINGTON, Judge (concurring). In this opinion KINMONTH, J., concurred. JACOBS,
Case DateSeptember 13, 1968
CourtCircuit Court of Connecticut

Page 502

247 A.2d 502 (Conn.Cir.A.D. 1968)

5 Conn.Cir.Ct. 178

STATE of Connecticut



No. CR 10-25818.

Circuit Court of Connecticut, Appellate Division.

Sept. 13, 1968

Page 503

Argued July 15, 1968.

Page 504

[5 Conn.Cir.Ct. 179] John J. Donahue, Norwich, for appellant (defendant).

James J. Murphy, Jr., Asst. Pros. Atty., for appellee (state).

JACOBS, Judge.

The defendant was charged in an information with the crime of breach of the peace, alleged to have been committed on or about May 18, 1967, at Norwich, Connecticut, in violation of § 53-174 of the General Statutes. Under Connecticut law, breach of the peace is a misdemeanor. See § 1-1.

At the opening of the session of the Circuit Court held on May 22, 1967, the defendant was apparently one of a number of criminal defendants assembled in the courtroom that morning. The presiding judge made an opening statement of the constitutional rights of all defendants collectively. The judge [5 Conn.Cir.Ct. 180] said: 'I'd like to advise those who are going to be put to plea of your rights. Some of them you are familiar with I am sure. You have the right to be represented by an attorney. You have the right to refuse to make any statement. Any statement you may make may be used in evidence against you. And you have the right to be admitted to bail. Some of you may wish to have a postponement in order to have time to obtain counsel. If that is true, kindly inform us of that when your case is called.' The trial judge then proceeded to arraign each defendant individually. The defendant, who was at all times unrepresented by counsel, entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of breach of the peace, 1 whereupon the court advised her that she could elect either trial by jury or by court. The defendant's response was: 'I don't know * * * court. I guess court.' The judge announced, 'Court trial,' and ordered the case set down for trial on May 26, 1967.

This appeal from the conviction is limited to two principal contentions, to wit: (1) Was the manner in which the defendants were informed of their rights constitutionally proper? (2) Was the content of the trial court's opening statement constitutionally sufficient?


Article first, § 8, of the Connecticut constitution (1965) provides in relevant part: 'In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have a right to be heard by himself and by counsel * * *. No person shall be compelled to give evidence against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. * * *' Implementing these constitutional[5 Conn.Cir.Ct. 181] requirements are several specific statutory commands. Section 54-1b required: 'When any person is arrested without a warrant or under a warrant, * * * such person shall be presented Before the circuit court session next held in the circuit where the offense is alleged to have been committed. Before any person so arrested is put to plea, he shall be

Page 505

advised that he has a right to retain counsel, that he has a right to refuse to make any statement and that any statement he makes may be introduced in evidence against him. Each such person shall be allowed a reasonable opportunity to consult counsel * * *.' 2 See State v. DeJoseph, 3 Conn.Cir.Ct. 624, 627, 222 A.2d 752, cert. denied, 385 U.S. 982, 87 S.Ct. 526, 17 L.Ed.2d 443; see also § 54-84; State v. Annunziato, 154 Conn. 41, 43, 221 A.2d 57. Each of the foregoing statutory requirements must be observed in such a manner as to promote rather than defeat the constitutional intent, for 'the very purpose of the duty thus enjoined upon the court to advise an accused is to preserve to him a right which the Constitution has conferred upon him.' In re Turrieta, 54 Cal.2d 816, 820, 8 Cal.Rptr. 737, 739, 356 P.2d 681, 683.

The Circuit Court in 1967 handled over 215,000 criminal...

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