State v. Mansfield, 122220 CTCA, AC 41587

Docket Nº:AC 41587
Opinion Judge:SULLIVAN, J.
Party Name:STATE OF CONNECTICUT v. BRIAN MANSFIELD
Attorney:Timothy H. Everett, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, were Alexis C. Coudert and Jeremy A. Weyman, certified legal interns, for the appellant (defendant). Jonathan M. Sousa, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Stephen J. Sedensky, state's attorney, and Warren...
Judge Panel:Alvord, Cradle and Sullivan, Js.
Case Date:December 22, 2020
Court:Appellate Court of Connecticut

STATE OF CONNECTICUT

v.

BRIAN MANSFIELD

No. AC 41587

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

December 22, 2020

Argued October 6, 2020

Procedural History

Substitute informations charging the defendant, in the first case, with one count of the crime of breach of the peace in the second degree and two counts of the crime of littering, and, in the second case, with the crime of assault of public safety personnel, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Danbury, geographical area number three, where the court, Russo, J., granted the state's motion for joinder; thereafter, the charges of breach of the peace in the second degree and assault of public safety personnel were tried to the jury before Russo, J.; verdicts of guilty; subsequently, the charges of littering were tried to the court; judgment of not guilty; thereafter, the court rendered judgments of guilty in accordance with the verdicts, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

Timothy H. Everett, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, were Alexis C. Coudert and Jeremy A. Weyman, certified legal interns, for the appellant (defendant).

Jonathan M. Sousa, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Stephen J. Sedensky, state's attorney, and Warren Murray, former supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

Alvord, Cradle and Sullivan, Js.

OPINION

SULLIVAN, J.

The defendant, Brian Mansfield, appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of the crimes of breach of the peace in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-181 (a) (1) and assault of public safety personnel in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167c (a) (5). On appeal, with regard to his conviction of breach of the peace, the defendant ‘‘challenges the sufficiency of the state's evidence to prove the theory of liability for which he was prosecuted: that he . . . engaged in tumultuous behavior''; (emphasis omitted); claims that ‘‘[t]he prosecution's theory of criminal liability rendered § 53a-181 (a) (1) unconstitutionally vague as applied, '' and that the trial court's instruction on the definition of ‘‘tumultuous behavior'' misled the jury. With regard to his conviction of assault of public safety personnel, the defendant claims that ‘‘[t]he state offered insufficient evidence to prove that [the] [o]fficer . . . was acting lawfully in the performance of his official duties, '' and that ‘‘[t]he trial court did not respond adequately to the jury's request . . . to be instructed on the law governing police discretion to issue and serve a summons [on] an individual who has not been arrested first.'' We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

The following facts, which the jury reasonably could have found, and procedural history are relevant to the defendant's appeal. On the evening of November 8, 2016-election day-Officer Leonard Penna of the New-town Police Department was working a private duty job providing security at the Bethel Town Hall (town hall) from 6 to 10 p.m. While Officer Penna was working, the defendant entered the town hall and approached a dry erase board in the lobby. The defendant removed several documents from the board and threw them on the ground, and erased the information that had been written on the board. The defendant then entered the gymnasium inside of the town hall where voting was taking place, and the volunteers working the polling place gave the defendant a ballot. The volunteers requested that the defendant return the ballot, and he refused. The volunteers then called to Officer Penna for assistance. After Officer Penna entered the gymnasium, the defendant continued to refuse to return the ballot and put the ballot in his pants. Officer Penna requested that the defendant return the ballot to the volunteers, and the defendant responded: ‘‘I bet you would like to go retrieve that out of my pants.'' After the defendant made this remark, the volunteers allowed him to keep the ballot. As the defendant exited the gymnasium, he knocked over a basket of ‘‘I Voted Today'' stickers.

Outside of the gymnasium, a group of Girl Scouts had set up a table where they were selling cookies. After exiting the gymnasium, the defendant took several boxes of cookies from the Girl Scouts and placed them inside of the bag that he was carrying. One of the girls began to yell at the defendant, and Officer Penna exited the gymnasium to respond to the commotion. Officer Penna told the defendant to return the boxes of cookies that he had taken, and the defendant responded by throwing the boxes onto the table in an aggressive manner. Officer Penna then began to escort the defendant to the exit of the town hall, and, as they walked down the hallway, the defendant spat on a picture hanging on the wall. Officer Penna then contacted the Bethel Police Department (department). Officers Jason Broad and Courtney Whaley of the department responded to Officer Penna's call. Officer Whaley arrived first, and she spoke with the defendant and attempted to calm him down. Officer Broad arrived shortly after Officer Whaley, and he assisted Officer Penna in helping the defendant get into his vehicle while Officer Whaley spoke with Lisa Berg, the Bethel Town Clerk. The defendant left the town hall in his vehicle, and he was not issued a summons that night.

The following day, November 9, 2016, Officer Broad was directed to complete a summons and issue it to the defendant a this home. The summons was for breach of the peace, based on the defendant's conduct the prior night. Officer Broad was not on duty on November 9, 2016, but he was directed to complete and issue the summons because he was the investigating officer. Because Officer Broad was off duty, he was not in uniform. For this reason, Sergeant James Christos of the department, who was on duty and in uniform, decided that he should accompany Officer Broad to the home of the defendant and issue the summons himself. Upon arrival at the defendant's home, Officer Broad and Sergeant Christos knocked on the door, and the defendant answered. Sergeant Christos handed the defendant a copy of the summons and requested that he sign it. The defendant crumpled the copy of the summons, threw it on the ground, and then spat in Sergeant Christos' face. The defendant attempted to close the door on them, but Officer Broad and Sergeant Christos stopped him and took him into custody. The defendant subsequently was charged with assault of a public safety officer.

Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of breach of the peace in the second degree, based on his conduct on the night of November 8, 2016, and assault of public safety personnel, based on his conduct on November 9, 2016. It is from these judgments of conviction that the defendant appeals. Additional facts and procedural history will be set forth as necessary.

I

The defendant challenges his conviction of breach of the peace in the second degree on the following grounds: the state failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove the theory of liability under which the defendant was prosecuted, the state's theory of criminal liability rendered the breach of the peace in the second degree statute unconstitutionally vague as it was applied, and the trial court misled the jury by providing an inappropriate instruction with regard to the definition of ‘‘tumultuous behavior.'' We address each claim in turn.

A

First, we address the defendant's claim that the state failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove the theory of liability under which he was prosecuted. Specifically, the defendant claims that ‘‘[t]he meaning of the term ‘tumultuous' is dependent on the terms that surround it1 . . . [and that] the state chose not to include any of those terms in the information, offered no evidence of physicality or imminent violence to satisfy the conduct element of the . . . statute, and did not request that the trial court instruct the jury that it had to find an element of physicality in order to convict.'' (Footnote added.) The defendant further claims that the state's ‘‘global argument''-that the defendant is guilty ‘‘based on [his] ‘collective behavior' '' on the night of November 8, 2016-inappropriately frames the requirements of § 53a-181 (a) (1). We disagree.

We begin by setting forth the applicable standard of review. ‘‘In reviewing the question of whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction, we apply a two part test. First, we construe the evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict. Second, we determine whether upon the facts so construed and the inferences reasonably drawn therefrom the jury reasonably could have concluded that the cumulative force of the evidence established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . On appeal, we do not ask whether there is a reasonable view of the evidence that would support a reasonable hypothesis of innocence. We ask, instead, whether there is a reasonable view of the evidence that supports the jury's verdict of guilty.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Allen, 289 Conn. 550, 555-56, 958 A.2d 1214 (2008). Review of a claim of insufficient evidence ‘‘must necessarily begin with the elements that the charged statute requires to be proved. Such a review involves statutory construction, which is a question of law. Our review, therefore, is plenary.'' State v. Carolina, 143 Conn.App. 438, 443, 69 A.3d 341, cert. denied, 310 Conn. 904, 75 A.3d 31 (2013).

The statute at issue is § 53a-181 (a) (1), and the defendant claims that the state failed to produce evidence sufficient to satisfy that statute's conduct element, which requires that the person engage ‘‘in fighting or in violent,...

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