JEFFREY RIDDICK v. COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION, SC 18394
Judicial District of Tolland
Habeas Corpus; Whether Habeas Court Properly Granted Petitioner's Counsel's Motion to Withdraw Pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). The petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging the denial of due process and the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Subsequently, the petitioner's counsel filed a motion to withdraw from the case under Practice Book § 23-41, on the ground that the petitioner's claims were wholly frivolous. The court granted the motion and dismissed the petition pursuant to Practice Book § 23-42. In its decision, the habeas court noted that it had reviewed the file, including counsel's memorandum of law and the petitioner's objection. It further noted that counsel had provided numerous citations to the trial transcript. Subsequently, the court articulated that although it had no independent recollection of the case, its normal procedure was to review all the documents submitted. It further stated that if there were transcript citations in counsel's memorandum of law, as there were here, it would ordinarily obtain the transcripts for review, and, if no transcripts were referenced in the brief, it would commonly require the submission of transcripts. On appeal to the Appellate Court (113 Conn. App. 456), the petitioner claimed, among other things, that both his counsel and the habeas court failed to comply with the standards set out in Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), for allowing counsel to withdraw, because the court did not review the trial transcript and because his counsel did not reference in her brief anything in the record that might arguably support his claims. He further asserted that he had raised several nonfrivolous issues that the habeas court did not fully examine. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal after concluding that the habeas court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for certification to appeal. The court determined that the record did not support the petitioner's claim that the habeas court failed to read the trial transcript. Moreover, the court noted that the petitioner relied on Practice Book § 43-36, which governs procedures for the withdrawal of counsel in criminal matters and which specifically requires the trial court to review the trial transcripts. It pointed out that the applicable rule in habeas matters, § 23-42 (a), does not contain the requirement that the habeas court review the trial transcript. As to the petitioner's contention that his counsel did not comply with the Anders procedures, the court ruled that counsel properly demonstrated, in her memorandum of law, why any potential claims of ineffectiveness were frivolous in light of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). On appeal to the Supreme Court, the petitioner claims that the Appellate Court utilized an improper standard of review, relying only on Strickland and not on Anders, in finding that counsel properly followed the Anders procedure. He also asserts that the court improperly found that the habeas court complied with the Anders standards and, further, that the court improperly failed to address the issue of whether the habeas trial sections of the Practice Book are designed to implement the Anders procedures.