435 A.2d 372 (Conn.Super. 1981), 1022, State v. Wheeler

Docket Nº1022.
Citation435 A.2d 372, 37 Conn.Supp. 693
Opinion JudgeSHEA, Judge.
Party NameSTATE of Connecticut v. Alton W. WHEELER.
AttorneyAlton W. Wheeler, pro se, for appellant (defendant). Carl Schuman, Deputy Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (state).
Judge PanelDALY and COVELLO, JJ., concurred in this opinion. SHEA,
Case DateMay 29, 1981
CourtSuperior Court of Connecticut

Page 372

435 A.2d 372 (Conn.Super. 1981)

37 Conn.Supp. 693

STATE of Connecticut

v.

Alton W. WHEELER.

No. 1022.

Superior Court of Connecticut, Appellate Session.

May 29, 1981

Argued Jan. 20, 1981.

Page 373

[37 Conn.Supp. 694] Alton W. Wheeler, pro se, for appellant (defendant).

Carl Schuman, Deputy Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (state).

SHEA, Judge.

The defendant, who appears without counsel, has appealed his conviction for operating an unregistered motor vehicle on a highway in violation of General Statutes § 14-12(a). 1 His principal claim of error is the denial of his demand for a jury trial. He also contends that he was denied his right to the assistance of counsel and to have witnesses testify in his behalf. His final claim is that the motor vehicle registration statute is unconstitutional because the provisions of General Statutes § 14-49(a) 2 for payment of the registration fee in dollars violates article first, § 10, of the federal constitution which prohibits a state from making anything but gold or silver coin a "tender in payment of debts."

The defendant's claim of a constitutional right of jury trial upon a charge of operating an unregistered motor vehicle raises the issue of the validity of the provision of General Statutes § 51-239b (Rev. to 1979) that "(t)here shall be no right to trial

Page 374

by jury in criminal actions where the maximum penalty is a fine of ninety-nine dollars or a sentence of thirty days, or both." The operation of an unregistered motor vehicle upon a public highway is an infraction. General Statutes § 14-12(a). The maximum penalty which [37 Conn.Supp. 695] may be imposed for an infraction is a fine of ninety-nine dollars. General Statutes § 51-164m (c). It is clear, therefore, that the defendant had no statutory right of jury trial.

The defendant relies upon the sixth 3 and seventh 4 amendments of the constitution of the United States in asserting his right to trial by jury. The sixth amendment guaranty of the right of jury trial in criminal cases has been construed to exempt the trial of petty offenses. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 160, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 1453, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968). The parameters of this exception have now been established to permit nonjury trials where the maximum period of incarceration which may be imposed for the offense does not exceed six months. Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66, 74, 90 S.Ct. 1886, 1891, 26 L.Ed.2d 437 (1970). It has also been indicated that where the maximum fine provided is no greater than $500 there is no right of jury trial under the sixth amendment. Id., 71, 90 S.Ct. 1889; Duncan v. Louisiana, supra, 391 U.S. 161, 88 S.Ct. 1453. The defendant, therefore, had no right of jury trial under the sixth amendment.

The seventh amendment also affords the defendant no right of jury trial in this case. It has never been held that such a right in civil cases, which the seventh amendment establishes in the federal courts, is an element of due process of law applicable to state courts through the fourteenth amendment. Curtis v. Loether, 415 U.S. 189, 192 n.6, 94 S.Ct. 1005, 1007 n.6, 39 L.Ed.2d 260 (1974); see annot., 18 L.Ed.2d 1388, [37 Conn.Supp. 696] 1410. In any event, the prosecution of an infraction is not a civil but a criminal case. Practice Book §§ 1000, 1021 (5) and (10).

Although the defendant relies wholly upon the federal constitution in asserting his right to a jury, we must not overlook the provision of our state constitution, article first, § 19, which states that "(t)he right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate." Under this section the right of jury trial in a case depends upon "whether the issue raised in the action is substantially of the same nature or is such an issue as prior to 1818 would have been triable to a jury." Swanson v. Boschen, 143 Conn. 159, 165, 120 A.2d 546 (1956). It is obvious that the offense of operating an unregistered motor vehicle did not exist in 1818 when our first constitution was adopted, but that fact does not end the inquiry. Id., 163, 120 A.2d 546. Such an...

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6 practice notes
  • In re Lukas K., 121508 CTSUP, K09CP07010941A
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court of Connecticut
    • Invalid date
    ...v. Statewide Grievance Committee, 103 Conn.App. 601, 614-15, 931 A.2d 319 (2007). As stated in State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Sup. 693, 697, 435 A.2d 372 (1981), with respect to a motion, such objections were and are ". . . too frivolous to warrant any [further] discussion . . . " CONC......
  • 610 So.2d 1326 (Fla.App. 2 Dist. 1992), 92-03745, Bauer v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Second District
    • December 23, 1992
    ...to lay counsel exists. A partial listing of cases would include: Skuse v. State, 714 P.2d 368 (Alaska App.1986); State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Supp. 693, 435 A.2d 372 (1981); State v. Brake, 110 Idaho 300, 715 P.2d 970 (1986); Kimble v. State, 451 N.E.2d 302 (Ind.1983); State ex rel. Stephan v.......
  • 471 A.2d 240 (Conn. 1984), State v. Rapuano
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 14, 1984
    ...of that state; State v. Reed, 174 Conn. 287, 292, 386 A.2d 243 (1978); or licensed by some state. State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Sup. 693, 697, 435 A.2d 372 (1981). [7] The defendant has advanced the argument that by waiving his own sixth amendment rights to counsel and to confrontation, he coul......
  • 464 A.2d 854 (Conn.Super. 1983), 1114, State v. Thrall
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court of Connecticut
    • April 15, 1983
    ...him. That request of lay representation by others the court properly denied. Our holding in State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Sup. 693, 697, 435 A.2d 372 (1981), is dispositive of this claim: "We are not aware of, and we are not inclined to create, any authority suggesting that the right of a ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • In re Lukas K., 121508 CTSUP, K09CP07010941A
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court of Connecticut
    • Invalid date
    ...v. Statewide Grievance Committee, 103 Conn.App. 601, 614-15, 931 A.2d 319 (2007). As stated in State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Sup. 693, 697, 435 A.2d 372 (1981), with respect to a motion, such objections were and are ". . . too frivolous to warrant any [further] discussion . . . " CONC......
  • 610 So.2d 1326 (Fla.App. 2 Dist. 1992), 92-03745, Bauer v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Second District
    • December 23, 1992
    ...to lay counsel exists. A partial listing of cases would include: Skuse v. State, 714 P.2d 368 (Alaska App.1986); State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Supp. 693, 435 A.2d 372 (1981); State v. Brake, 110 Idaho 300, 715 P.2d 970 (1986); Kimble v. State, 451 N.E.2d 302 (Ind.1983); State ex rel. Stephan v.......
  • 471 A.2d 240 (Conn. 1984), State v. Rapuano
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 14, 1984
    ...of that state; State v. Reed, 174 Conn. 287, 292, 386 A.2d 243 (1978); or licensed by some state. State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Sup. 693, 697, 435 A.2d 372 (1981). [7] The defendant has advanced the argument that by waiving his own sixth amendment rights to counsel and to confrontation, he coul......
  • 464 A.2d 854 (Conn.Super. 1983), 1114, State v. Thrall
    • United States
    • Connecticut Superior Court of Connecticut
    • April 15, 1983
    ...him. That request of lay representation by others the court properly denied. Our holding in State v. Wheeler, 37 Conn.Sup. 693, 697, 435 A.2d 372 (1981), is dispositive of this claim: "We are not aware of, and we are not inclined to create, any authority suggesting that the right of a ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results