Inglis v. Comm'r of Corr.

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Citation213 Conn.App. 496,278 A.3d 518
Docket NumberAC 44492
Decision Date28 June 2022

213 Conn.App. 496
278 A.3d 518

Antonio INGLIS

AC 44492

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Argued January 31, 2022
Officially released June 28, 2022

Vishal K. Garg, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

Nancy L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael A. Gailor, state's attorney, Tamara A. Grosso, former senior assistant state's attorney, and Samantha L. Oden, former Deputy assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

Prescott, Moll and Bishop, Js.


The petitioner, Antonio Inglis, appeals following the denial of his petition for certification to appeal from the judgment of the habeas court denying his third amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court abused its discretion in denying his petition for certification to appeal and improperly rejected his claims that (1) his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in his underlying criminal trial, and (2) his right to due process under the Connecticut constitution was violated by the admission of both out-of-court and in-court eyewitness identifications of him that were obtained through unnecessarily suggestive identification procedures. We conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for certification to appeal and, accordingly, dismiss the petitioner's appeal.

The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of this appeal. After a jury trial, the petitioner was convicted of two counts of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a (a), one count of capital felony murder in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2007) § 53a-54b (7), one count of assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (5), and one count of carrying a pistol without a permit

213 Conn.App. 500

in violation of General Statutes § 29-35 (a). The petitioner received a total effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release, plus twenty-five years.

This court's opinion in the petitioner's direct appeal; see State v. Inglis , 151 Conn. App. 283, 94 A.3d 1204, cert. denied, 314 Conn. 920, 100 A.3d 851 (2014), cert. denied, 575 U.S. 918, 135 S. Ct. 1559, 191 L. Ed. 2d 647 (2015) ; sets forth the following facts: "[I]n the early hours of February 10, 2008, an altercation ensued at the Cocktails on the Green nightclub (club) in Cromwell that left two men dead and another wounded. The altercation began when the [petitioner] repeatedly antagonized one of the victims, Tyrese Lockhart, a patron seated at the bar with friends. Lockhart and his friends eventually confronted the [petitioner] and asked him to leave Lockhart alone. A group of the [petitioner's] friends that included his brother, Daren Walls, likewise encouraged the [petitioner] to leave Lockhart alone. When Israel Dandrade, a disc jockey who was performing at the club that evening, announced ‘last call’ soon thereafter, Lockhart headed toward an exit with friends.

278 A.3d 525

At that moment, the [petitioner] brandished a chrome revolver and fired several shots in Lockhart's direction. One shot struck Lockhart in the head, another struck Dandrade in the eye, and a third grazed the cheek of Kenneth Lewis, a cook at the club. Lockhart and Dandrade died as a result of their respective gunshot wounds.

"The [petitioner] subsequently was arrested and charged with the aforementioned offenses. A jury trial followed,1 at which the state presented eyewitness testimony from multiple individuals identifying the [petitioner] as the shooter. The theory advanced by the defense was that, due to the facial similarit[ies] between

213 Conn.App. 501

Walls and the [petitioner], those witnesses could not distinguish between the two brothers to properly identify the shooter." (Footnote added; footnote omitted.) Id., at 286–87, 94 A.3d 1204.

On May 27, 2015, the petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Subsequently, on September 24, 2018, the petitioner filed the operative, third amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In the amended petition, the petitioner set forth numerous claims, including that (1) his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel was violated, (2) his constitutional right to the effective assistance of appellate counsel was violated, and (3) his constitutional right to due process and a fair trial was violated.

On November 6, 2018, pursuant to Practice Book § 23-30,2 the respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, filed a return, asserting, inter alia, that the petitioner was procedurally defaulted with respect to his due process claims because he had failed to raise them at his criminal trial or on direct appeal, and that he could not establish good cause or prejudice sufficient to excuse his failure to assert those claims on direct appeal. On December 6, 2018, pursuant to Practice Book § 23-31,3 the petitioner filed a reply to the return in which he contended that his state due process claim was not

213 Conn.App. 502

procedurally defaulted because any attempt to raise that claim at trial would have been futile given that "the Connecticut Supreme Court [in State v. Harris , 330 Conn. 91, 191 A.3d 119 (2018) ] has only recently recognized that the Connecticut ... constitution affords greater protection than the federal constitutional standard against the admission of unreliable eyewitness identification evidence or testimony." In the alternative, the petitioner contended that, if the claim is procedurally defaulted, it can be cured by a showing of cause and prejudice because there is a reasonable probability that he would have raised this claim but for the deficient performance of trial counsel and, had the

278 A.3d 526

claim been raised, there is a reasonable probability that he would have prevailed.

After trial, the court denied the petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner thereafter filed a petition for certification to appeal from the court's judgment, which the court denied. The petitioner moved the court for an articulation as to the basis for the court's denial of his petition for certification, which the court granted, stating that "the petition for certification was denied on the merits." This appeal followed. Additional facts and procedural history will be set forth as necessary.

"Faced with a habeas court's denial of a petition for certification to appeal, a petitioner can obtain appellate review of the dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus only by satisfying the two-pronged test enunciated by our Supreme Court in Simms v. Warden , 229 Conn. 178, 640 A.2d 601 (1994), and adopted in Simms v. Warden , 230 Conn. 608, 612, 646 A.2d 126 (1994). First, he must demonstrate that the denial of his petition for certification constituted an abuse of discretion.... To prove an abuse of discretion, the petitioner must demonstrate that the [resolution of the underlying claim involves issues that] are debatable among jurists of

213 Conn.App. 503

reason; that a court could resolve the issues [in a different manner]; or that the questions are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.... Second, if the petitioner can show an abuse of discretion, he must then prove that the decision of the habeas court should be reversed on the merits.... In determining whether there has been an abuse of discretion, every reasonable presumption should be given in favor of the correctness of the court's ruling ... [and] [r]eversal is required only where an abuse of discretion is manifest or where injustice appears to have been done." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) McClain v. Commissioner of Correction , 188 Conn. App. 70, 74–75, 204 A.3d 82, cert. denied, 331 Conn. 914, 204 A.3d 702 (2019).

"In determining whether the habeas court abused its discretion in denying the petitioner's request for certification, we necessarily must consider the merits of the petitioner's underlying claims to determine whether the habeas court reasonably determined that the petitioner's appeal was frivolous. In other words, we review the petitioner's substantive claims for the purpose of ascertaining whether those claims satisfy one or more of the three criteria ... adopted by [our Supreme Court] for determining the propriety of the habeas court's denial of the petition for certification." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Whistnant v. Commissioner of Correction , 199 Conn. App. 406, 415, 236 A.3d 276, cert. denied, 335 Conn. 969, 240 A.3d 286 (2020).

For the reasons set forth in parts I and II of this opinion, we conclude that the petitioner has failed to demonstrate that the habeas court abused its discretion in denying his petition for certification to appeal.


The record reflects that in the underlying criminal trial the petitioner was represented by Attorney Walter

213 Conn.App. 504

Bansley III and Attorney Walter C. Bansley IV.4 In...

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