State v. Reid, No. 17554.

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Citation894 A.2d 963,277 Conn. 764
Decision Date18 April 2006
Docket NumberNo. 17554.
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Mark REID.
894 A.2d 963
277 Conn. 764
STATE of Connecticut
Mark REID.
No. 17554.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
Argued January 6, 2006.
Decided April 18, 2006.

Appeal from the Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Swords, J.

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Robert J. Gallo, with whom, on the brief, were Karen A. Goodrow, public defender, Charles D. Ray and Salvatore N. Fornaciari, Hartford, for the appellant (defendant).

Timothy J. Sugrue, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, was James E. Thomas, state's attorney, and Cynthia Baer, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).




The defendant, Mark Reid, appeals from the judgment of conviction of assault in the second degree, challenging the decision of the trial court denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The principal issue in this appeal is whether, at the time he entered his plea, the defendant adequately was apprised of the nature of the criminal charges against him in conformity with the federal constitutional requirement that a guilty plea, to be valid, must be made knowingly and voluntarily. We answer the question in the affirmative, and accordingly, we affirm the judgment of conviction.

The record reveals the following facts and procedural history. In June, 1996, the state charged the defendant in a short form information with one count of assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59.1 In September, 1996, the defendant pleaded not guilty and elected a trial by jury.2 On April 25, 1997, the

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state filed a substitute short form information charging the defendant with one count of assault in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60.3 That same day, the defendant entered a guilty plea to the substitute information.

During the hearing at which the defendant entered his guilty plea, defense counsel began by representing to the trial court, Cofield, J., that he had "explained to [the defendant] the offer that the court extended. [He has] indicated to me that he is going to be accepting the offer. . . ." The state then requested that the defendant enter his plea to "a substituted charge of assault in the second degree, a violation of [General Statutes §] 53a-61...."4 Notably, for purposes of this appeal, § 53a-61 addresses third degree assault, not second degree assault, and we further discuss this inconsistency in part II of this opinion.

The assistant state's attorney thereafter recited to the court the following facts underlying the assault charge. The victim, Roosevelt Joyner, reported to the police that the defendant had approached him, confronted him verbally, and then hit him several times with a metal baseball bat on his left hand and forearm, on the left side of his head and on his left leg. As a result of this attack, the victim suffered several injuries including a broken leg. An eyewitness corroborated the victim's version of events. The defendant confirmed that he had heard the recitation of facts and that the facts were correct. When the trial court asked the defendant if he had "caused [the victim] a serious physical injury, [a] broken leg ... and ... did that by using a baseball bat," he acknowledged that he had.

The defendant also responded affirmatively to the trial court's questions as to whether he had had enough time to discuss the plea with defense counsel and whether he was satisfied with the advice given to him. He also indicated that he did not have any further questions for defense counsel concerning the law or the facts applying to his case. Additionally, the defendant affirmed that defense counsel "went over the law with [him], as it relates to assault in the second degree. . . ." The defendant then affirmed that he had waived a presentence investigation as well as his rights to a trial, to confront witnesses and to avoid self-incrimination. In response to a query from the trial court, defense counsel stated that he had informed the defendant that credit likely would not be given for the time he had served on charges pending in another matter.5

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Upon learning that the defendant is not a citizen of the United States, the trial court explained to the defendant that he was pleading guilty to a felony and that, "as a result of [his] plea [he] could face other consequences, such as deportation... from the United States, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States." The defendant affirmed that he understood these possible consequences and further confirmed that he still wished to enter the guilty plea.

The defendant also affirmed that he was entering a plea of guilty "because [he was] guilty and for no other reason." Finally, he confirmed his understanding that he would not be able to "take back" the plea once it had been accepted by the trial court and that, as instructed by the court, the "maximum penalty on the charge of assault in the second degree is five years...." Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court then imposed a sentence of one year incarceration.6

In November, 1997, a jury found the defendant guilty of sexual assault in the first degree and kidnapping in the first degree. See footnote 5 of this opinion. In 1999, deportation proceedings were commenced against the defendant by the federal government citing the defendant's 1997 sexual assault conviction as the basis for deportation.7 In May, 2003, the trial court granted the defendant's petition for a new trial and vacated that 1997 conviction. In June, 2003, the federal Department of Homeland Security substituted the defendant's April, 1997 conviction of assault in the second degree for the now vacated November, 1997 conviction that previously had been cited as the basis for deporting him. In August, 2003, the United States Immigration Court denied the defendant's motion to terminate the deportation proceedings. The defendant was ordered deported to Jamaica, and he

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thereafter was removed from the United States.

In February, 2004, pursuant to Practice Book §§ 39-26, 39-27 and 39-19, the defendant filed in the Superior Court a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty to assault in the second degree, claiming violations of his right to due process under the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the United States constitution and under article first, § 8, of the Connecticut constitution.8 The defendant claimed that his plea was improper because the trial court never had advised him of the elements of the crime for which he was convicted, nor did the record of the proceedings demonstrate that the defendant's attorney had advised him of the necessary elements. The defendant also claimed that his attorney's representation may have been ineffective and that he was denied his right to allocution.

The trial court, Swords, J., noted that the defendant's motion to withdraw the plea was untimely, but concluded that, because the defendant had asserted constitutional claims that could be reviewed, it would consider the motion. The court entered an order denying the motion, however, reasoning that the defendant had not demonstrated a clear constitutional violation, nor had he demonstrated a clear deprivation of his right to a fair hearing. This appeal followed.9

On appeal to this court, the defendant contends that the trial court's judgment was improper because: (1) the canvas of the defendant was ambiguous as to whether he was pleading to second or third degree assault and as to which particular subsections of the relevant offense applied; (2) there is no support in the record to conclude that the necessary information had been provided by defense counsel prior to the plea; and (3) the failure of defense counsel to correct these deficiencies, combined with the multiple continuances of the proceedings, raises serious questions as to the adequacy of representation received by the defendant and therefore about whether his plea was knowing and voluntary.10 The state contends that the defendant's appeal must be dismissed because the trial court lacked jurisdiction in the first instance to consider the plaintiff's motion to withdraw his plea. Alternatively, the state contends that, should we examine the plea canvass, we should deny the appeal nonetheless because

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the defendant has not demonstrated that his plea was constitutionally infirm. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the defendant's motion to withdraw his plea, but that we nevertheless may review his constitutional claim that his plea was not given knowingly and voluntarily. We agree with the state, however, that the defendant has not met his burden as to this claim and, accordingly, we affirm his judgment of conviction.


The first issue that we must address is whether this court has jurisdiction to consider the merits of the defendant's challenge to his guilty plea within the confines of our authority to review the trial court's judgment denying his motion to withdraw the plea. If we conclude that the motion to withdraw was an inappropriate vehicle for the defendant's challenge and, therefore, that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion, the question arises whether any other avenue of appellate review is appropriate in the particular circumstances of this case.

The matter presently before us arises out of the defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to Practice Book §§ 39-2611 and 39-27.12 The state contends that the trial court acted without jurisdiction when it heard and determined the defendant's motion because, in the absence of a legislative or constitutional grant of continuing jurisdiction, the trial court lost jurisdiction over this action on April 25, 1997, when the defendant was taken in execution of...

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