606 A.2d 39 (Conn.App. 1992), 9763, State v. Gruver

Docket Nº9763.
Citation606 A.2d 39, 27 Conn.App. 370
Opinion JudgeEDWARD Y. O'CONNELL, Judge. O'CONNELL, J.
Party NameSTATE of Connecticut v. Paul GRUVER.
AttorneyWilliam Domnarski, Mansfield Depot, for appellant (defendant)., Mitchell S. Brody, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were Donald B. Caldwell, State's Atty., and Sandra Tullius, Deputy Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (state). William Domnarski, for the appellant (defendant). Mitchel...
Judge PanelIn this opinion the other judges concurred. Before DUPONT, CJ, and EDWARD Y O'CONNELL and LAVERY
Case DateApril 14, 1992
CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut

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606 A.2d 39 (Conn.App. 1992)

27 Conn.App. 370

STATE of Connecticut



No. 9763.

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

April 14, 1992

Argued Oct. 28, 1991.

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[27 Conn.App. 371] William Domnarski, Mansfield Depot, for appellant (defendant).

Mitchell S. Brody, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were Donald B. Caldwell, State's Atty., and Sandra Tullius, Deputy Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (state).



The defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction of operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor in violation of General Statutes § 14-227a. He entered a conditional nolo contendere plea after denial of his motion to suppress the state's evidence. General Statutes § 54-94a. 1 On appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

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The record discloses that, on the night in question, JoAnne Howell, while working at a convenience store in the Storrs section of Mansfield, saw the defendant drive into the parking lot in front of the store at approximately 11:30 p.m. She observed the defendant stumble as he got out of his car, enter the store with difficulty and continue to stumble and nearly fall to the floor. On the basis of his glassy eyes, stumbling gait, [27 Conn.App. 372] inability to distinguish currency denominations while attempting to make a purchase and his acknowledgement that he was "trashed," Howell concluded that the defendant was inebriated. Howell asked the defendant whether he would be driving, and when he responded that he would be, she telephoned the police.

Howell informed the police that the defendant had just stumbled out of the store and into the driver's seat of a small blue car parked almost directly in front of the store. She also told the police that the vehicle's lights were on but that its engine had not been started. Howell remained on the phone with the police until a cruiser arrived on the scene less than three minutes later.

The arresting officer was dispatched to the store to look for a possibly intoxicated driver who had just left the store and was in a small blue car with its headlights on. Approaching the store, the officer observed a small blue vehicle with its lights on parked facing the store. The officer stopped his cruiser directly behind the car and turned on the cruiser's overhead light. 2 The record does not indicate that there was any impediment to driving the defendant's car forward.

As the officer walked toward the defendant's car, he smelled a very strong odor of alcohol through the open window and observed the defendant in the driver's seat, with his face flushed and eyes glassy. At this point, the defendant looked at the officer, turned on his vehicle's ignition and, when asked if he had been drinking, replied in slurred speech, "I had a couple." After being asked to exit his vehicle, the defendant failed field sobriety tests, and was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor. Neither the [27 Conn.App. 373] defendant's operation 3 of the vehicle nor his having been under the influence of liquor are contested in this appeal.

As a threshold matter, we note with disapproval the breadth of the defendant's motion. 4 Much greater particularity of the material to be suppressed is desirable if not required. See General Statutes § 54-33f; 5

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Practice Book § 821; 6 State v. Criscuolo, 6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 453, 275 A.2d 613 (1970). General Statutes § 54-33f is [27 Conn.App. 374] nearly a verbatim adoption of rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. As such, we may look to the decisions of the federal courts for assistance in its application. State v. Darwin, 29 Conn.Sup. 423, 425, 290 A.2d 593 (1972). "It is well settled that a party moving for suppression of evidence must state definitely what particular messages he desires suppressed. An allegation to suppress all illegally obtained evidence is insufficient." United States v. Carney, 188 F.Supp. 86, 88 (S.D.N.Y.1960); see also O'Neal v. United States, 222 F.2d 411 (D.C.Cir.1955). Because the adequacy of the motion was not raised by the parties, nor by this court at oral argument, we forego determining the appeal on this issue and will decide the matter on its merits. See Lo Sacco v. Young, 210 Conn. 503, 508, 555 A.2d 986 (1989).

The defendant treats this case as one involving an anonymous informant. The trial court, however, was entitled to believe Howell's testimony that she gave her name to the police and therefore was not an anonymous tipster. Moreover, Howell testified as a state's witness and was cross-examined by the defendant. Thus, the disadvantages to a defendant when the police act on an anonymous tip or refuse to disclose their informant's name are not part of this case. Such disadvantages arise from the fact that the unknown informant does not come forth and testify as a witness. Thus, the defendant is deprived of his right of cross-examination and the trier of fact is deprived of the opportunity to determine the informant's credibility by observing his demeanor on the witness stand. In this case, the court, as the trier of fact, could determine Howell's credibility for itself. See State v. Richardson, 204 Conn. 654, 657-62, 529 A.2d 1236 (1987).

The defendant also mistakenly fixes the point when he was seized as the moment the police officer pulled [27 Conn.App. 375] up behind the defendant's vehicle and turned on the cruiser's light. In California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621 , 111 S.Ct. 1547, 1550, 113 L.Ed.2d 690 (1991), the United States Supreme Court recently held that,...

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