State v. Jones, No. 19117.

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtROBINSON, J.
Citation314 Conn. 410,102 A.3d 694
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. William T. JONES.
Docket NumberNo. 19117.
Decision Date11 November 2014

314 Conn. 410
102 A.3d 694

STATE of Connecticut
v.
William T. JONES.

No. 19117.

Supreme Court of Connecticut.

Argued Feb. 24, 2014.
Decided Nov. 11, 2014.


102 A.3d 695

Lisa J. Steele, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

Robert J. Scheinblum, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael Dearington, state's attorney, and Mary Elizabeth Baran, former senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

ROGERS, C.J., and PALMER, ZARELLA, McDONALD, ESPINOSA and ROBINSON, Js.

Opinion

ROBINSON, J.

314 Conn. 412

Practice Book § 42–23(a) requires that a trial court “shall submit to the jury ... [a]ll exhibits received in evidence” for review during its deliberations. In this certified appeal, we consider whether a trial court may, consistent with Practice Book § 42–23(a), require that a jury watch a digital video exhibit in open court during its deliberations rather than providing the jury with the equipment needed to watch the video in the privacy of the jury room. The defendant, William T. Jones, appeals, upon our grant of his petition for certification,1 from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of assault of public safety personnel in violation of General Statutes § 53a–167c and engaging police in pursuit in violation of General Statutes § 14–223(b). State v. Jones, 140 Conn.App. 455, 59 A.3d 320 (2013). The trial court in this case determined

102 A.3d 696

that it did not have access to equipment needed to play the video in the jury room during deliberations, so it required the jury, if it chose to watch the video again, to view it in open court. The defendant claims that the Appellate Court improperly concluded

314 Conn. 413

that this procedure complied with the mandate, set forth in Practice Book § 42–23(a), that the trial court “shall submit” exhibits to the jury. We conclude that Practice Book § 42–23(a) requires a trial court to make exhibits available for the jury's use during deliberations, but that a trial court has discretion, pursuant to its inherent authority to manage the trial process, to determine the means by which the jury reviews submitted evidence. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.

The following facts and procedural history are relevant to the present appeal. Meriden police officers stopped the defendant's car after observing what the officers believed was a narcotics transaction involving the defendant. Shortly after stopping the car, and as the officers approached it on foot, the defendant drove away, running over an officer's foot. That officer, who had previously drawn his firearm, fired two shots at the defendant's car as it sped away. Police were unable to catch up with the defendant that day, but the defendant was later arrested in New York on a fugitive warrant. The state ultimately charged the defendant with second degree assault in violation of General Statutes § 53a–60 (a)(2), assault of public safety personnel in violation of § 53a–167c, and engaging police in pursuit in violation of § 14–223(b).

At the defendant's trial, the state introduced, as an exhibit, a DVD containing a recording from a camera mounted inside one of the police cars present at the stop of the defendant's car. The camera, which was not pointed directly at the defendant's car, did not record the stop or the assault, but did capture the defendant's car driving away and recorded the sound from the two gunshots.

Both parties used the video during the trial. The parties played the entire video for the jury a combined total of eight times, and played portions of the video

314 Conn. 414

about eight more times. Both parties also used it during each of their closing arguments. The defendant used the video principally to contradict the injured officer's testimony that he fired at the defendant's car as it ran over his foot. The video shows that no one was near the defendant's car when the shots are heard in the recording, so the defendant used the video to attack the testifying officer's credibility. In response, the state argued that the video captured only a portion of the stop and that other evidence confirmed that the assault took place, even if not at the exact time the injured officer thought that it had occurred.

On the morning of the day the jury began its deliberations, the defendant's counsel asked the trial court, for the first time, whether the jury would be able to view the video in the jury room during its deliberations. The trial court responded that it did not have any equipment to allow a viewing in the jury room. During the trial, the parties had used a laptop computer and a projector belonging to the prosecutor to play the video, but the trial court determined that it could not provide the computer to the jury because it contained other information not admitted into evidence. The trial court instead determined that it would instruct the jury that it could view the video in the courtroom, with the court and counsel present, by sending out a note.2 The trial

314 Conn. 415

court later gave this instruction to the jury and sent them to

102 A.3d 697

deliberate.3 The jury did not ask to see the video.

The jury deliberated for about an hour and then returned a verdict finding the defendant guilty of assault of public safety personnel and engaging police in pursuit, but acquitting him on the charge of second degree assault.

At sentencing, the defendant raised concerns about the manner in which the trial court made the video available to the jury and later moved for judgment of

314 Conn. 416

acquittal and a new trial. He argued that requiring the jury to view the video in the courtroom “unfairly and unduly reduced [the jury's] ability to freely discuss the facts of the case....” The trial court denied the motion. The trial court explained that it had no means to facilitate the jury's viewing of the video inside the jury room and determined that the jury had sufficient opportunity to watch the video in open court, if it had chosen to do so. The trial court concluded that the defendant therefore suffered no prejudice and declined to set aside the defendant's conviction. Thereafter, the trial court sentenced the defendant to a total effective sentence of seventy-eight months imprisonment.

The defendant appealed from the trial court's judgment of conviction to the Appellate

102 A.3d 698

Court. State v. Jones, supra, 140 Conn.App. 455, 59 A.3d 320. The defendant claimed, among other things, that the trial court's ruling that the jury could view the video in open court, rather than in the jury deliberation room, violated Practice Book § 42–23(a). Id. at 459, 59 A.3d 320. The Appellate Court disagreed, concluding that the trial court has inherent authority to use its discretion to managing the trial process and that the trial court in this case did not abuse its discretion given the late notice of the defendant's concern and the unavailability of technology needed to view the video in the jury room. Id. at 464–66, 59 A.3d 320. This certified appeal followed.

On appeal, the defendant claims that command that the trial court “shall submit” all full exhibits to the jury set forth in Practice Book § 42–23(a) requires that the jury be allowed to review the exhibits in the privacy of the jury room. According to the defendant, this required the trial court (or the state) to provide the jury with equipment necessary to view a DVD. Because the trial court failed to do this, the defendant argues that it acted improperly, requiring a new trial. The defendant further asks us to interpret § 42–23(a) to require, as a bright

314 Conn. 417

line rule, that the party offering an exhibit into evidence must also provide the jury with any equipment needed to review that evidence privately, in the jury room.

The state disagrees with the defendant's assertion that the trial court acted improperly and balks at the defendant's proposed bright line interpretation of § 42–23(a). According to the state, the rule's command that the trial court “shall submit” exhibits to the jury requires only that the court give the jury the opportunity to study or consider the exhibit. Because the trial court has the inherent discretion to manage the proceedings before it, the state argues that the trial court may determine where and how the jury reviews submitted exhibits. Alternatively, the state asserts that even if the trial court's order violated § 42–23(a), this did not prejudice the defendant and was, therefore, harmless error. Finally, the state objects to the defendant's request for a bright line rule. It argues that the diverse and constantly evolving types of digital evidence, and the...

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21 practice notes
  • Jones v. State, SC 19725
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 2, 2018
    ...requires resolving disputed facts and weighing several statutory factors, is reviewed for abuse of discretion); see also State v. Jones , 314 Conn. 410, 419, 102 A.3d 694 (2014) (noting trial court's discretion over matters of trial management). The question remaining in the present case do......
  • State v. Hutton, AC 41011
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 19, 2019
    ...(rejecting claim that confrontation clause of our state constitution provides greater protections than its federal counterpart), aff'd, 314 Conn. 410, 102 A.3d 694 (2014).9 Section 8-2 (b) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence provides: "In criminal cases, hearsay statements that might otherw......
  • State v. Patel, AC 40605
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • January 8, 2019
    ...basis that suggests that our state constitution provides the defendant any broader protection to confront a witness against him"), aff'd, 314 Conn. 410, 102 A.3d 694 (2014).10 In its brief, the state does not address the admission of Colwell's testimony. This is not entirely surprising give......
  • State v. Davidson, No. E2013-00394-SC-DDT-DD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • December 19, 2016
    ...of the taped confession, the court acted within its discretion in allowing the tape to be played in open court"); State v. Jones , 314 Conn. 410, 102 A.3d 694, 701 (2014) (holding that the trial court properly exercised its discretion by requiring the jury to review video in open court beca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • Jones v. State, SC 19725
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 2, 2018
    ...requires resolving disputed facts and weighing several statutory factors, is reviewed for abuse of discretion); see also State v. Jones , 314 Conn. 410, 419, 102 A.3d 694 (2014) (noting trial court's discretion over matters of trial management). The question remaining in the present case do......
  • State v. Hutton, AC 41011
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 19, 2019
    ...(rejecting claim that confrontation clause of our state constitution provides greater protections than its federal counterpart), aff'd, 314 Conn. 410, 102 A.3d 694 (2014).9 Section 8-2 (b) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence provides: "In criminal cases, hearsay statements that might otherw......
  • State v. Patel, AC 40605
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • January 8, 2019
    ...basis that suggests that our state constitution provides the defendant any broader protection to confront a witness against him"), aff'd, 314 Conn. 410, 102 A.3d 694 (2014).10 In its brief, the state does not address the admission of Colwell's testimony. This is not entirely surprising give......
  • State v. Davidson, No. E2013-00394-SC-DDT-DD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • December 19, 2016
    ...of the taped confession, the court acted within its discretion in allowing the tape to be played in open court"); State v. Jones , 314 Conn. 410, 102 A.3d 694, 701 (2014) (holding that the trial court properly exercised its discretion by requiring the jury to review video in open court beca......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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