STATE v. SUSHIL GUPTA, SC 18122
Judicial District of New Haven
Criminal; Whether Appellate Court Correctly Held that Three Sexual Assault Cases Should not have been Consolidated for Trial and Properly Reversed the Defendant's Conviction in the most Egregious Case; Whether Appellate Court Correctly Determined that the Trial Court Should have Admitted Medical Treatises and Instructional Videotapes into Evidence. As a result of complaints filed by three female patients, M, J and D, the defendant pulmonologist was charged with fourth degree sexual assault for subjecting a person to sexual contact by means of a false representation that the sexual contact was for a bona fide medical purpose in violation of General Statutes § 53a-73a. The cases were consolidated for trial. At trial, the defendant attempted to offer instructional videotapes and excerpts of medical treatises for the purpose of showing the proper method for conducting a pulmonological examination and of demonstrating that the contact described by the complainants was consistent with accepted medical practice. The trial court refused to admit the evidence, finding that it was irrelevant, cumulative and had a tendency to confuse the jury. The defendant was convicted of the charge with respect to the claims of M and J and acquitted with respect to D's claims. The Appellate Court reversed (105 Conn. App. 237), concluding that the trial court's consolidation of the cases for trial was improper because (1) the conduct involved in M's case, which was presented first, was far more egregious than the conduct involved in the other two cases; (2) the consolidation prevented the jury from an impartial consideration of the charges in the cases of J and D; and (3) the consolidation may have unfairly permitted the jury to aggregate the evidence against the defendant in all three cases. The Appellate Court also concluded that the trial court improperly excluded the treatise excerpts and the videotapes and that the error was harmful. In doing so, the court determined that the evidence was relevant to the main issue being tried, that is, whether the defendant's purported examination of the complainants was a legitimate medical procedure, and that the evidence was not needlessly cumulative because the defendant's expert witness had testified that the treatise excerpts corroborated her opinion. The court also determined that the treatise excerpts contained enough plain language that an average person with no medical background would have been capable of understanding them and that the videotapes were brief and easy to comprehend. As for harmfulness, the court noted that the presentation of the excluded evidence could have substantially affected the verdict because there was not overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt, and the excluded evidence may have had a tendency to cast doubt on the state's claim that the examinations performed by the defendant were medically improper. The state appeals to the Supreme Court, which is presented with the issues of whether the Appellate Court properly (1) concluded that the trial court abused its discretion in consolidating the three cases against the defendant, (2) determined that the trial court improperly failed to admit certain medical treatises and videotapes, and (3) concluded that the defendant's conviction for the sexual assault of M required reversal even though it involved the most egregious conduct of the cases that were consolidated for trial.