Santos v. Comm'r of Corr.

Decision Date13 November 2018
Docket NumberAC 40427
Citation198 A.3d 698,186 Conn.App. 107
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
Parties Alexis SANTOS v. COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

James E. Mortimer, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

Linda F. Currie-Zeffiro, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's attorney, and Eva B. Lenczewski, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

Lavine, Sheldon and Bishop, Js.

PER CURIAM.

The petitioner, Alexis Santos, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court improperly concluded that his trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance by failing to retain an expert witness to assist in his defense and by failing to present the testimony of certain fact witnesses. We affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

The following procedural history, as set forth by the habeas court, is relevant to this appeal. "On September 24, 2012, in the Waterbury judicial district, in the matter of State v. Santos , Docket No. CR-11-401131, following a jury trial, the petitioner was convicted of four counts of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 (a) (2), four counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (2) and one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (1). In docket number CR-11-402391, the petitioner was convicted of one count of sexual assault in the first degree, one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (2), one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (1) and one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-73a (a) (1) (A). On November 30, 2012, the trial court, Crawford, J., sentenced the petitioner to a total effective term of twenty years of incarceration followed by twenty years of special parole." This court affirmed the petitioner's conviction. See State v. Santos , 148 Conn. App. 907, 86 A.3d 1099, cert. denied, 311 Conn. 944, 89 A.3d 351 (2014).

The petitioner thereafter initiated this matter by the filing of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In his operative petition, he claimed that his trial counsel, Tashun Bowden-Lewis, rendered ineffective assistance. Following an evidentiary hearing, the habeas court rejected the petitioner's claims by way of a memorandum of decision filed April 5, 2017. The habeas court concluded that the petitioner had failed to prove that Bowden-Lewis' representation of him was deficient or that he was prejudiced by any aspect of her allegedly deficient performance, and thus denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On April 21, 2017, the habeas court granted the petitioner's petition for certification to appeal.

On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court erred in rejecting his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. We have examined the record on appeal, the briefs and arguments of the parties, and conclude that the judgment of the habeas court should be affirmed. Because the habeas court thoroughly addressed the arguments raised in this appeal, we adopt its well reasoned decision as a statement of the facts and the applicable law on the issues. See Santos v. Commissioner of Correction , Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Docket No. CV-14-4005961-S, 2017 WL 1655877 (April 5, 2017) (reprinted at 186 Conn. App. 110, ––– A.3d ––––). Any further discussion by this court would serve no useful purpose. See, e.g., Woodruff v. Hemingway , 297 Conn. 317, 321, 2 A.3d 857 (2010) ; Brander v. Stoddard , 173 Conn. App. 730, 732, 164 A.3d 889, cert. denied, 327 Conn. 928, 171 A.3d 456 (2017).

The judgment is affirmed.

Appendix

ALEXIS SANTOS

v.

COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION*

Superior Court, Judicial District of Tolland

File No. CV-14-4005961-S

Memorandum filed April 5, 2017

Proceedings

Memorandum of decision after completed habeas corpus trial to court. Judgment for respondent.

Opinion

OLIVER, J.

The petitioner, Alexis Santos, brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that his criminal defense attorney provided him ineffective assistance in violation of the state and federal constitutions, and seeking to have his convictions vacated. Specifically, the petitioner claims, in his amended petition filed July 22, 2016, that his right to effective legal representation was denied in that his counsel, Attorney Tashun Bowden-Lewis, committed a number of errors at trial.

The petitioner claims that his right to effective legal representation at trial was denied in that his underlying trial counsel was constitutionally deficient in the following ways:

a. She did not retain, consult with and present the testimony of a mental health professional with an expertise in investigating and evaluating child sexual abuse allegations in order to:

1. Call into question the reliability of victim M.H.'s disclosures;

2. Call into question the reliability of victim Y.H.'s disclosure;

3. Rebut the testimony of prosecution witness Theresa Montelli concerning "common characteristics and behaviors" of sexually abused children;

4. Rebut the testimony of prosecution expert witness Theresa Montelli concerning the statistical probabilities of children and recantation;

5. Provide a consultation source to counsel so as to avoid eliciting damaging information on cross-examination concerning recantations;

6. Provide an alternative innocent explanation for false allegations; and

7. Rebut the credibility of the forensic interviewer re: failing to explore alternative innocent explanations.b. She failed to adequately cross-examine, impeach and otherwise challenge the testimony of the victim M.H., concerning her motive, interest and bias against the petitioner;c. She failed to adequately object to the introduction of M.H.'s forensic interview based on hearsay grounds;

d. She failed to adequately challenge the testimony of Y.H. concerning her motive, interest and bias against the petitioner;

e. She failed to adequately object to the introduction of Theresa Montelli's expert testimony;

f. She failed to adequately object, based on relevancy, to the testimony of Theresa Montelli concerning common characteristics and behaviors of sexually abused children;

g. She failed to adequately challenge the testimony of Theresa Montelli concerning her knowledge of statistical data in the field of child sexual abuse;

h. She failed to adequately challenge the testimony of O.S., the mother of the complaining witnesses;

i. She failed to investigate and introduce evidence of the petitioner's work history to challenge the victims' testimony as well as to challenge the notion of the petitioner's access to the victims;

j. She failed to properly object to prosecution witness Donna Meyer's testimony characterizing M.H.'s testimony as credible;

k. She failed to call Daisy Cruz as a witness in the defense case-in-chief;

l. She failed to call Claribel Santos, Carlos Santos and Tanya Wilcher–Lombardo as witnesses in the defense case-in-chief to challenge:

1. The victims' testimony re: exterior door locks on their bedroom doors;

2. The petitioner's access to the victims;

3. O.S.'s testimony re: her work history; and

4. The time frame during which the petitioner resided with the victims; and

m. She failed to present the trial court with supporting information as to the unavailability of Daisy Cruz so as to cause the trial court to allow the testimony of Ms. Cruz by either video conference or deposition.

The respondent, the Commissioner of Correction, denies the allegations. The court heard the trial of this matter on the merits on September 13, October 24 and December 21, 2016. The petitioner called eight witnesses: himself, Attorney Bowden-Lewis, Tanya Lombardo, Jeffrey Cianciolo, Claribel Santos, Dayanara Santos, expert mental health witness David Mantell and expert legal witness Kenneth Simon. Despite repeated diligent attempts, the petitioner was unable to secure the testimony of Daisy Cruz. The petitioner entered into evidence a number of exhibits. The respondent called no witnesses and offered three exhibits. Based upon the credible evidence presented, the court finds the issues for the respondent and denies the petition.

IPROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 24, 2012, in the Waterbury judicial district, in the matter of State v. Santos , Docket No. CR-11-401131, following a jury trial, the petitioner was convicted of four counts of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 (a) (2), four counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (2) and one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (1). In docket number CR-11-402391, the petitioner was convicted of one count of sexual assault in the first degree, one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (2), one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (1) and one count of sexual assault in the fourth degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-73a (a) (1) (A). On November 30, 2012, the trial court, Crawford, J. , sentenced the petitioner to a total effective term of twenty years of incarceration followed by twenty years of special parole.

The petitioner appealed from the underlying criminal judgment, and on March 24, 2014, the Appellate Court affirmed the conviction per curiam. State v. Santos , 148 Conn. App. 907, 86 A.3d 1099, cert. denied, 311 Conn. 944, 89 A.3d 351 (2014). On February 7, 2014, the petitioner initiated this matter by the filing of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner was assisted at trial by a Spanish language interpreter.

The allegations against the petitioner by victim M.H. include sexual contact by digital penetration on one occasion as well as nonsexual physical abuse. The allegations against the petitioner by Y.H. include repeated penile-vaginal,...

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4 cases
  • Davis v. Comm'r of Corr.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • June 23, 2020
    ...the prejudice prong under Strickland , the petitioner must do more than proffer a speculative outcome. See Santos v. Commissioner of Correction , 186 Conn. App. 107, 131, 198 A.3d 698 ("[m]ere conjecture and speculation are not enough to support a showing of prejudice" (internal quotation m......
  • State v. Adams
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • November 13, 2018
  • State v. Bradbury
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • March 17, 2020
    ...of Correction , Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Docket No. CV-14-4005961-S (April 5, 2017) (reprinted at 186 Conn. App. 107, 115–16, 198 A.3d 698 ) ("[N]othing in our law is more elementary than that the trier [of fact] is the final judge of the credibility of witnesses and of......
  • Santos v. Comm'r of Corr.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • December 12, 2018
    ...December 12, 2018The petitioner Alexis Santos' petition for certification to appeal from the Appellate Court, 186 Conn.App. 107, ___ A.3d ___ (2018), is ...

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