STATE v. DAVID A. FERNANDES, JR., SC 18449
Judicial District of New London
Criminal; Whether the Transfer of the Juvenile Defendant's Case from the Juvenile Docket to the Regular Criminal Docket Complied with General Statutes § 46b-127 (b) and Due Process Requirements. In connection with an incident that occurred at the defendant's school when he was fifteen years old, the defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit assault in the second degree. He appeared in the Juvenile Court, which found that there was probable cause to believe that he had committed the crime. Thereafter, the prosecutor moved to transfer the case to the adult criminal docket under General Statutes § 46b-127 (b). That statute, in relevant part, provides that "upon motion of a juvenile prosecutor and order of the court, the case of any child charged with the commission of a class C or D felony or an unclassified felony shall be transferred from the docket for juvenile matters to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court, provided such offense was committed after such child attained the age of fourteen years and the court finds ex parte that there is probable cause to believe the child has committed the act for which he is charged." In granting the motion to transfer the case to the regular criminal docket, the Juvenile Court reasoned that since it had made a finding of probable cause and the state had requested the transfer, it did not have the discretion under § 46b-127 (b) to do anything other than order the transfer. The defendant was ultimately convicted, under a substitute information, of assault in the second degree as an accessory. He appealed from his conviction, arguing that the transfer of his case to the regular criminal docket did not meet the requirements of due process and of § 46b-127 (b). The Appellate Court (115 Conn. App. 180) agreed, concluding that the Juvenile Court had misinterpreted § 46b-127 (b) and had violated the defendant's due process rights in failing to conduct a hearing to address whether the case should be transferred. The Appellate Court distinguished subsection (b) from subsection (a) of § 46b-127. It indicated that subsection (a) expressly declares that a transfer to the regular criminal docket is automatic when the defendant is charged with the commission of certain crimes and that defense counsel may not argue in opposition to the transfer. It stated that subsection (b), in contrast, contains no equivalent language and allows both the juvenile prosecutor and the court to exercise discretion in deciding whether to transfer a case. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the transfer of the defendant's case failed to comply with § 46b-127 (b) and with due process requirements.