State v. Metz, No. 14909

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtBefore PETERS; PETERS
Citation645 A.2d 965,230 Conn. 400
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Thomas METZ.
Decision Date02 August 1994
Docket NumberNo. 14909

Page 965

645 A.2d 965
230 Conn. 400
STATE of Connecticut
v.
Thomas METZ.
No. 14909.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
Argued May 11, 1994.
Decided Aug. 2, 1994.

[230 Conn. 401] Monte P. Radler, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

Mitchell S. Brody, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were Eugene Callahan, State's Atty., and Steven Weiss, Supervisory Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (State).

Page 966

[230 Conn. 402] William B. Wynne, Bridgeport, filed a brief for the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc., as amicus curiae.

[230 Conn. 400] Before PETERS, C.J., and BORDEN, BERDON, NORCOTT and KATZ, JJ.

[230 Conn. 402] PETERS, Chief Justice.

The principal issue in this appeal is the proper allocation of the burden of proof to determine the continued commitment to a mental hospital of a person previously found not guilty of criminal charges by reason of mental disease or defect. The defendant, Thomas Metz, was originally charged with assault in the second degree of a person over the age of sixty in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60b, a class D felony, and with interfering with a police officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167a, a class A misdemeanor. The trial court, Buzaid, J., found the defendant not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and committed him to the custody of the commissioner of mental health, pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-582(e)(1), 1 for the maximum allowable period of six years.

[230 Conn. 403] Sixty-eight days prior to the expiration of the maximum period of commitment, the

Page 967

state petitioned for its [230 Conn. 404] extension, pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-593(c), 2 on the ground that the defendant continued to be mentally[230 Conn. 405] ill and a danger to himself or others. The trial court, Bingham, J., denied the defendant's motions to dismiss the state's petition and accepted the recommendation of the psychiatric security review board for the defendant's continued commitment at the Whiting Forensic Institute. The defendant appealed from the judgment of the trial court to the Appellate Court, and we transferred the appeal to this court pursuant to Practice Book § 4023 and General Statutes § 51-199(c). We reverse the judgment of the trial court.

The validity of the defendant's initial confinement to a mental hospital is unchallenged. That confinement arose in the following procedural and factual circumstances. Because the defendant was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect pursuant to General Statutes § 53a-13 in the underlying criminal proceedings, he is an "acquittee" as that term is defined by General Statutes § 17a-580(1). 3 Although the Probate

Page 968

Court ordinarily has jurisdiction over the commitment[230 Conn. 406] to a mental hospital of a person with a mental illness who is dangerous to himself or others; General Statutes §§ 17a-497 and 17a-498; in the case of acquittees, the Superior Court has the authority to decide the propriety of such a confinement. General Statutes § 17a-582(e). In deciding whether to order the commitment, the conditional discharge or the discharge of an acquittee, the governing statute enjoins the Superior Court "that its primary concern is the protection of society." General Statutes § 17a-582(e). The Superior Court's order of confinement is, however, limited to "a maximum term of commitment, not to exceed the maximum sentence that could have been imposed if the acquittee had been convicted of the offense." General Statutes § 17a-582(e)(1)(A). In this case, the defendant was ordered to be confined in a state mental hospital for a maximum term of six years.

To contest the appropriateness of his confinement during this six year maximum term, the defendant would have had to establish, "by a preponderance of the evidence that he is a person who should be discharged." General Statutes § 17a-582(f). 4 Throughout his six year maximum term, after the periodic reviews mandated by General Statutes § 17a-585, 5 the psychiatric security review board has concurred in the professional opinion of the defendant's treating psychiatrist that the defendant continues to be mentally ill and a danger to himself and others.

[230 Conn. 407] As the end of the six year maximum term of the defendant's commitment approached, the state's attorney petitioned the Superior Court to extend the defendant's commitment for a further period of time on the ground that "reasonable cause exists to believe that the acquittee remains mentally ill ... to the extent that his discharge at the expiration of his maximum term of commitment would constitute a danger to himself or others...." General Statutes § 17a-593(c). In the opinion of the psychiatric security review board, to which a referral was made pursuant to § 17a-593(d), the defendant continues to suffer from mental illness and to be a danger to himself and others.

In the trial court, the defendant moved, on two grounds, to dismiss the state's petition to extend his commitment. As a procedural matter, he argued that the state was not entitled to invoke § 17a-593(c) because it had not filed its petition at least 135 days prior to the expiration of his commitment, as specified by that subsection. As a constitutional matter, he argued that § 17a-593 is unenforceable to the extent that subsection (f) of that statute 6 requires him, even after the expiration of his maximum criminal sentence, to prove that he has regained his sanity in accordance with the rules governing commitment of acquittees rather than in accordance with the rules governing civil commitments and commitments of prisoners

Page 969

whose term of incarceration has ended. 7 After extensive argument[230 Conn. 408] and reargument, the trial court concluded that the state's petition should be granted and that the defendant should continue to be confined at the Whiting Forensic Institute. 8

On appeal, the defendant renews the procedural and the constitutional issues that he raised at trial. We disagree with his contention that the state's failure to file a petition within the time constraints of § 17a-593(c) automatically requires dismissal of the petition. We agree, however, that he has raised serious constitutional issues with regard to the burden of proof. To avoid such constitutional jeopardy, we construe § 17a-593(c) to require the state to bear the burden of proving the need for a period of continued commitment of an acquittee after the expiration of the maximum term specified by § 17a-582(e)(1)(A).

I

Section 17a-593(c) authorizes a state's attorney to seek a court order for the continued commitment of an acquittee "[i]f reasonable cause exists to believe that the acquittee remains mentally ill or mentally retarded to the extent that his discharge at the expiration of his maximum term of commitment would constitute a danger to himself or others...." Although that statute specifies that such a petition be filed "at least one hundred thirty-five days prior to such expiration," the state did not file its petition until sixty-eight days prior [230 Conn. 409] to the expiration of the defendant's six year maximum term. The defendant maintains that the 135 day time period is mandatory, while the state maintains that it is merely directory. We agree with the trial court that a petition invoking § 17a-593(c) should not be dismissed on the grounds of untimeliness unless the state's delay has prejudiced the acquittee. In this case, the defendant has not alleged any prejudice attributable to the state's delay in filing the petition.

Well established principles of statutory construction govern our determination of whether a statutory time period is mandatory or directory. Our fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the legislature. Ambroise v. William Raveis Real Estate, Inc., 226 Conn. 757, 764, 628 A.2d 1303 (1993); Iovieno v. Commissioner of Correction, 222 Conn. 254, 258, 608 A.2d 1174 (1992); Chairman v. Freedom of Information Commission, 217 Conn. 193, 200, 585 A.2d 96 (1991). "In seeking to discern that intent, we look to the words of the statute itself, to the legislative history and circumstances surrounding its enactment, to the legislative policy it was designed to implement, and to its relationship to existing legislation and common law principles governing the same general subject matter...." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Ambroise v. William Raveis Real Estate, Inc., supra, 226 Conn. at 764, 628 A.2d 1303; see Glastonbury Volunteer Ambulance Assn., Inc. v. Freedom of Information Commission, 227 Conn. 848, 852-57, 633 A.2d 305 (1993).

Applying these rules in the present circumstances, we conclude that the 135 day period specified in § 17a-593(c) is directory. The defendant seeks a construction of this statute that would require automatic dismissal of a late filed state's petition for the continued commitment of an acquittee. Thus, noncompliance with § 17a-593(c) would effectively deprive the Superior [230 Conn. 410] Court of further jurisdiction over an acquittee's continuing commitment. As in the case of time limitations on a right to appeal, "the established principle [is] that every presumption is

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to be indulged in favor of jurisdiction ... [and] we require a strong showing of a legislative intent to create a time limitation that, in the event of noncompliance, acts as a subject matter jurisdictional bar." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Ambroise v. William Raveis Real Estate, Inc., supra, 226 Conn. at 765, 628 A.2d 1303. We can discern no such showing in either the plain language of the statute or its legislative history.

Significant to our determination is the absence in the statute of words, such as "must" or "shall," which ordinarily express legislative mandates of a nondirectory nature. See Statewide Grievance Committee v. Rozbicki, 211 Conn. 232, 240, 558 A.2d 986...

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92 practice notes
  • State v. Garcia, No. 15128
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 9, 1995
    ...(Emphasis added; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Davis, 229 Conn. 285, 293-94, 641 A.2d 370 (1994). In State v. Metz, 230 Conn. 400, 645 A.2d 965 (1994), we held that a defendant found not guilty of criminal charges by reason of mental disease or defect and [233 Conn. 87] remand......
  • Hunt v. Prior, No. 15210
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 26, 1996
    ...standing in the same relation to the governmental action questioned or challenged...." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Metz, 230 Conn. 400, 423, 645 A.2d 965 (1994); see also Broadley v. Board of Education, 229 Conn. 1, 8, 639 A.2d 502 (1994). When, as here, a claimed equal pro......
  • Rizzo Pool Co. v. Del Grosso, Nos. 14973
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • April 11, 1995
    ...common law principles governing the same general subject matter." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Metz, 230 Conn. 400, 409, 645 A.2d 965 (1994); Fleming v. Garnett, 231 [232 Conn. 677] Conn. 77, 91-92, 646 A.2d 1308 (1994). Application of these well establish......
  • State v. Dyous, AC 42006
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • June 23, 2020
    ...marks omitted.) State v. Harris , supra, at 386, 890 A.2d 559 ; see also Dyous I , supra, 307 Conn. at 308, 53 A.3d 153 ; State v. Metz , 230 Conn. 400, 425–26, 645 A.2d 965 (1994) ; State v. Damone , supra, 148 Conn. App. at 164, 83 A.3d 1227. At this proceeding, however, the court's prima......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
92 cases
  • State v. Garcia, No. 15128
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 9, 1995
    ...(Emphasis added; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Davis, 229 Conn. 285, 293-94, 641 A.2d 370 (1994). In State v. Metz, 230 Conn. 400, 645 A.2d 965 (1994), we held that a defendant found not guilty of criminal charges by reason of mental disease or defect and [233 Conn. 87] remand......
  • Hunt v. Prior, No. 15210
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • March 26, 1996
    ...standing in the same relation to the governmental action questioned or challenged...." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Metz, 230 Conn. 400, 423, 645 A.2d 965 (1994); see also Broadley v. Board of Education, 229 Conn. 1, 8, 639 A.2d 502 (1994). When, as here, a claimed equal pro......
  • Rizzo Pool Co. v. Del Grosso, Nos. 14973
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • April 11, 1995
    ...common law principles governing the same general subject matter." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Metz, 230 Conn. 400, 409, 645 A.2d 965 (1994); Fleming v. Garnett, 231 [232 Conn. 677] Conn. 77, 91-92, 646 A.2d 1308 (1994). Application of these well establish......
  • State v. Dyous, AC 42006
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • June 23, 2020
    ...marks omitted.) State v. Harris , supra, at 386, 890 A.2d 559 ; see also Dyous I , supra, 307 Conn. at 308, 53 A.3d 153 ; State v. Metz , 230 Conn. 400, 425–26, 645 A.2d 965 (1994) ; State v. Damone , supra, 148 Conn. App. at 164, 83 A.3d 1227. At this proceeding, however, the court's prima......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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