Johnson v. Manson

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Citation196 Conn. 309,493 A.2d 846
PartiesSamuel Lewis JOHNSON v. John R. MANSON, Commissioner of Correction.
Decision Date28 May 1985

Page 846

493 A.2d 846
196 Conn. 309
Samuel Lewis JOHNSON
John R. MANSON, Commissioner of Correction.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
Argued Feb. 7, 1985.
Decided May 28, 1985.

Page 847

L.D. McCallum, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom, on the brief, were Joseph I. Lieberman, Atty. [196 Conn. 310] Gen. and Michael Donahue, law student intern, for appellant (respondent).

Todd D. Fernow, Hartford, with whom was Michael R. Sheldon, Hartford, for appellee (petitioner).


[196 Conn. 310] ARTHUR H. HEALEY, Associate Justice.

The issue presented in this habeas corpus proceeding is whether the petitioner, Samuel Lewis Johnson, must be credited under General Statutes § 18-98 1 for the 109 days he spent in a Florida jail while resisting extradition to Connecticut for trial on the charge of escape from custody, a violation of General Statutes § 53a-171. 2 The trial court granted the writ holding that § 18-98 authorized the 109 days credit "for time served in an out of state correctional institution while awaiting extradition to Connecticut, provided the Connecticut charge is the only reason the prisoner is being held." 3 This appeal by the respondent commissioner of correction (commissioner) followed.

[196 Conn. 311] On September 28, 1979, the petitioner was incarcerated, having been charged

Page 848

with six counts of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134. Although bond had been set for him, he was unable to post bond. On that date, he was brought to the Superior Court, geographical area number fourteen on Morgan Street, for arraignment on the unrelated charge of failure to appear in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-172. While awaiting arraignment, he escaped from the detention area of the courthouse and fled from the state of Connecticut. On October 1, 1979, an arrest warrant was issued and an information filed charging him with escape from custody in violation of § 53a-171. On December 4, 1979, the petitioner was arrested in Florida upon receipt of information that he was wanted for escape in Connecticut. Upon his arrest, he was charged with being a fugitive from justice and was placed in a Florida county jail. Presented in court in Florida, he refused to waive extradition and was furnished counsel to assist with his defense against extradition. On February 13, 1980, the governor of Connecticut made formal demand upon the governor of Florida for the petitioner's return to Connecticut. The governor of Florida issued his rendition warrant on February 28, 1980, directing Florida authorities to deliver the petitioner to Connecticut authorities. After his arrest on the warrant of the governor of Florida, the petitioner's Florida counsel sought a writ of habeas corpus. After a hearing on his petition which contested the validity of the extradition, his petition was denied.

On March 22, 1980, he was returned to Connecticut, formally arrested on the charge of escape from custody and held in lieu of bond for prosecution of that charge. [196 Conn. 312] On August 17, 1980, upon conviction and sentencing on that charge, the petitioner was committed to the custody of the respondent. In due course, the commissioner credited the petitioner's sentence with the presentence confinement time in Connecticut, i.e., from March 22, 1980, to August 17, 1980. He declined, however, to credit his criminal sentence for any time spent in confinement in Florida before his extradition, i.e., from December 4, 1979, to March 22, 1980.

On this appeal, the respondent commissioner claims that: (1) the trial court erred in concluding that § 18-98 entitled the petitioner to a credit on his Connecticut sentence for the time that he was incarcerated in Florida awaiting extradition to Connecticut; and (2) even though § 18-98 does not, by its terms, require the time credit sought, the denial of such credit to the plaintiff does not deny, contrary to the petitioner's claims, his right to equal protection of the laws; U.S. Const., amend. XIV; Conn. Const., art. I § 20; 4 or due process of law. U.S. Const., amend. XIV; Conn. Const., art. I § 8. 5

We turn first to the claim involving the statutory construction of § 18-98. We agree with the commissioner that the trial court erred in concluding that § 18-98 authorized credit for 109 days on his Connecticut criminal sentence.

Section 18-98 provides that "[a]ny person who has been denied bail or who has been unable to obtain bail and who is subsequently imprisoned for an offense [196 Conn. 313] ... is entitled to commutation of his sentence by the number of days which he spent in a community correctional center from the time he was denied or was unable to obtain bail to the time he was so imprisoned." (Emphasis added.) This provision establishes "presentence confinement credit ... for time served 'in a community correctional

Page 849

center' "; Moscone v. Manson, 185 Conn. 124, 132 n. 5, 440 A.2d 848 (1981); "to which the supervising officer of the correctional center where such person was confined while awaiting trial certifies such person was confined between the denial of bail to him or his inability to obtain bail and his imprisonment." (Emphasis added.) General Statutes § 18-98.

The commissioner argues that while the statute authorizes him to credit the criminal sentence of one imprisoned "awaiting trial" and sentencing, it does not in any way authorize or require him to extend the same credit to one "awaiting extradition." "Awaiting trial" or "awaiting sentence" is, he claims, just not the same under § 18-98 as "awaiting extradition." Additionally, he differs with the trial court's (and the petitioner's) posture that the statute is ambiguous as to whether its "community correctional center" language applies to a person confined outside Connecticut without bail who is awaiting extradition; the commissioner contends that this language clearly relates to intrastate and not interstate procedures. 6 Opining, without conceding, that even if the trial court may have construed § 18-98 as it did because it was seeking to avoid constitutional [196 Conn. 314] problems and not place it in constitutional "jeopardy"; see Moscone v. Manson, supra, 132-34, 440 A.2d 848 (Healey, J., concurring); the commissioner rejects that posture, claiming that to credit the time sought would require construing § 18-98 to mean something that clearly is not expressed therein. The commissioner also takes issue with the trial court's view that his construction of § 18-98 is unreasonable and thwarts the statutory purpose in requiring a different result in the case of one who is confined outside Connecticut while contesting extradition, as opposed to one confined in Connecticut facilities other than "community correctional centers."

Our decision in Houston v. Warden, 169 Conn. 247, 363 A.2d 121 (1975), in which we also construed § 18-98, is instructive on the issue of statutory construction: "The language of the statute is clear and unambiguous. Courts cannot, by construction, read into statutes provisions which are not clearly stated. Robinson v. Guman, 163 Conn. 439, 444, 311 A.2d 57 [1972]; United Aircraft Corporation v. Fusari, 163 Conn. 401, 415, 311 A.2d 65 [1972]. 'It is not for us to search out some intent which we may believe the legislature actually had and give effect to it, but we are confined to the intention which is expressed in the words it has used.' Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Walsh, 134 Conn. 295, 301, 57 A.2d 128 [1948].

" 'It is a cardinal rule of construction that statutes are to be construed so that they carry out the intent of the legislature. This intent is to be ascertained from the language of the statute itself, if the language is plain and unambiguous. Hurlburt v. Lemelin, 155 Conn. 68, 73, 230 A.2d 36 [1967]; Landry v. Personnel Appeal Board, 138 Conn. 445, 447, 86 A.2d 70 [1952]. Where the legislative intent is clear there is no room for statutory construction. Little v. Ives, 158 Conn. 452, 455, 262 A.2d 174 [1969]; State ex rel. Cooley v. Kegley, 143 [196 Conn. 315] Conn. 679, 683, 124 A.2d 898 [1956]; State ex rel. Rourke v. Barbieri, 139 Conn. 203, 207, 91 A.2d 773 [1952].' Hartford Hospital v. Hartford, 160 Conn. 370, 375, 279 A.2d 561 [1971]. ' "We must construe the act as we find it, without reference to whether we think it would have been or could be improved by the inclusion of other provisions." Murphy v. Way, 107 Conn. 633, 639, 141 A. 858 [1928].' State v. Nelson, 126 Conn. 412, 416, 11 A.2d 856 [1940]." Houston v.

Page 850

Warden, supra, 167 Conn. 251-52, 363 A.2d 121.

"A legislative intention not expressed in some appropriate manner has no legal existence." 7 (Citations omitted.) State v. Smith, 194 Conn. 213, 222, 479 A.2d 814 (1984). We point out that § 18-98 as written has no language about "while awaiting extradition," but rather clearly specifies "while awaiting trial." It is obvious that the "awaiting trial" criterion is critical in determining credits for those so entitled. Where statutory language is clearly expressed, as here, courts must apply the legislative enactment according to the plain terms and "cannot read into the terms of a statute something which manifestly is not there in order to reach what the court thinks would be a just result." Rosnick v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 172 Conn. 416, 422, 374 A.2d 1076 (1977), quoting State v. Malm, 143 Conn. 462, 467, 123 A.2d 276 (1956). 8

[196 Conn. 316] It is basic, of course, that a statute is to be construed as a whole and that the words used therein must be interpreted in their plain and ordinary meaning "unless the context indicates that a different one was intended." Caldor, Inc. v. Heffernan, 183 Conn. 566, 570, 440 A.2d 767 (1981). If the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous, it is assumed that the words themselves express the intention of the legislature and...

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