State v. Smith, 072820 CTSC, SC 190482

Docket Nº:SC 190482
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Case Date:July 28, 2020
Court:Supreme Court of Connecticut




No. SC 190482

Supreme Court of Connecticut

July 28, 2020

The defendant's petition for certification, filed June 16, 2020, for review of the Appellate Court's order (AC 194213) granting review of the trial court's order concerning release on bail but denying the relief requested is dismissed.


In most circumstances, this court has little or no role in reviewing trial court orders concerning bail or pretrial release of an accused. In the ordinary course, a petition seeking review of such an order is ruled on by our Appellate Court, and the road for review of these petitions pursuant to Practice Book § 78a-11and General Statutes § 54-63g ends there.2 Although we dismiss the petition for certification to appeal from the order of the Appellate Court in the present case, we recognize that these are unprecedented times and that, as the highest court in our judicial system, we play a critical role in providing guidance to lower courts. All branches of government, and the public we serve, are confronted with a global pandemic that challenges, in every way, how we operate, deliver services, strive to fulfill our core missions, and discharge our constitutional and other legal responsibilities. The conditions created by the pandemic challenge every convention that we typically rely on, reflexively and as a matter of routine, to conduct our business under normal circumstances. Guidance is needed to delineate procedures for the appropriate consideration and disposition of claims like those in the present case during these extraordinary times, and it is our responsibility to provide it. Despite our capacity to do so, we have concluded that it would be unwise to articulate procedural guidelines in the context of this case because of its particular procedural posture. The purpose of this written order is to explain what prevents us from doing so and, in the process, to give trial courts, lawyers, and litigants as much general guidance as possible under the circumstances.



On April 22, 2020, the defendant, Jermaine Smith, moved for modification of his $250, 000 bond and an order granting his release on a promise to appear. In support of his release, he explained that the Department of Correction has experienced an increase in inmates and staff members with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The defendant asserted that his ‘‘severe asthma and sleep apnea put him at an alarmingly heightened risk of very serious and even fatal consequences should he contract the virus.'' According to the defendant, confinement under these conditions ‘‘violates his [federal] constitutional rights pursuant to the due process clause of the fifth amendment as well as the eighth amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment . . . .'' He requested that the trial court modify his bond and release him from custody as a pretrial detainee.

The trial court held a hearing on the motion on April 27, 2020. The state responded to the defendant's arguments by relying on the seriousness of the allegations and the defendant's criminal history. The trial court agreed with the state and denied the motion for bond reduction ‘‘[b]ased on the nature of the allegations [and] the defendant's criminal history . . . .'' The defendant sought review of the trial court's order pursuant to Practice Book § 78a-1. The Appellate Court granted review of the trial court's order denying bail modification but denied the relief requested. The defendant then filed a petition for certification with this court on June 16, 2020, requesting review of the Appellate Court's denial of relief.



The general rule is that ‘‘interlocutory orders in criminal cases are not immediately appealable''; State v. Ayala, 222 Conn. 331, 339, 610 A.2d 1162 (1992); and a judgment becomes final in a criminal case only after the imposition of a sentence. See Practice Book § 61-6 (a) (1). The legislature has provided for an exception when it comes to the setting of a defendant's bail. Specifically, General Statutes § 54-63g permits ‘‘[a]ny accused person . . . aggrieved by an order of the Superior Court concerning release, [to] petition the Appellate Court for review of such order.'' Our own rules of appellate procedure contain the same avenue for review. Practice Book § 78a-1. In State v. Fernando A., 294 Conn. 1, 981 A.2d 427 (2009), we observed that an appeal to this court ordinarily would not lie from a trial court order concerning pretrial conditions of release because the ‘‘exclusive nondiscretionary remedy from an order concerning conditions of release is a petition to the Appellate Court pursuant to . . . § 54-63g.'' Id., 5 n.3. We also have adhered...

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