STATE v. BRIAN FIELDING, SC 18184

Judicial District of Danbury

 

Criminal; Appellate Jurisdiction; Whether the Appellate Court Properly Dismissed, For Lack of a Final Judgment, the State's Appeal from an Order Granting the Defendant's Pretrial Request for Copies of Alleged Pornographic Material Seized from his Home. The defendant was charged with possession of child pornography. During the pretrial proceedings, he moved for an order requiring the state to produce copies of the alleged pornographic material that was seized from his home. He asserted that the copies were needed to allow his forensic computer expert to evaluate the evidence and to allow him to prepare a defense. On April 30, 2007, at the hearing on the defendant's motion, the defendant argued that no state law prohibited him from obtaining the requested materials. He acknowledged that there was a bill pending in the General Assembly that would prohibit criminal defendants from copying material that constitutes child pornography if the state makes that material reasonably available to them. He argued, however, that this bill, even if passed, would not be effective until October of 2007. On June 18, 2007, the trial court granted the defendant's motion and imposed a number of restrictions on the use and handling of the copies. The state moved for reconsideration, noting that on July 11, 2007, the aforementioned bill had been signed into law. The trial court denied the state's motion, and the state appealed. The Appellate Court, sua sponte, ordered a hearing on whether the state's appeal should be dismissed for lack of a final judgment. At the hearing, the state argued that the trial court's June 18, 2007 ruling satisfied the final judgment test set forth in State v. Curcio, 191 Conn. 27, 30-31 (1983). The Appellate Court disagreed and dismissed the appeal. In this appeal, the state argues that the Appellate Court improperly found that its appeal was not taken from a final judgment. It also argues that even if its appeal to the Appellate Court was not taken from a final judgment, the Supreme Court should now review the trial court's ruling pursuant to General Statutes 52-265a (a), which permits an interlocutory appeal of a question involving a matter of substantial public interest and in which delay may work a substantial injustice.