STATE v. OLES J. BAPTISTE, SC 18497
Judicial District of Norwich at G.A. 21
Criminal; Appellate Review; Whether Defendant Waived any Constitutional or Plain Error Claim that the Trial Court Inadequately Instructed the Jury on the Essential Elements of the Crimes of Assault of a Police Officer and Interfering with an Officer. On November 29, 2005, Norwich police detectives, wearing plain clothes but displaying badges, were investigating allegations of drug-related activities at a Norwich residence. They encountered the defendant in a bedroom, and he consented to being searched. After not finding any contraband, an officer began to speak with a female occupant in the room. The defendant grew agitated and, as the officers attempted to continue the investigation, became combative. The defendant was later charged with one count of assaulting a police officer and two counts of interfering with an officer. At his trial, the defendant testified that the officers did not identify themselves as police officers and that they did not have badges showing. He submitted a request to charge on the issue of self-defense as set forth in General Statutes § 53a-19. After the trial court denied the request, the defendant took an exception. The court then asked counsel whether every other part of the jury charge was agreed upon, to which defense counsel responded in the affirmative. Thereafter, the court instructed the jury on the two charges. Upon being convicted as charged, the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court (114 Conn. App. 750), which affirmed the convictions. Among other things, the defendant claimed that the trial court's instructions on the charges were inadequate and misleading and that the court improperly failed to instruct the jury on the defenses set out in General Statutes §§ 53a-22 and 53a-23, depriving him of his due process rights to present a defense and to have the state prove every element of the crimes. Admitting that he did not properly preserve his claims about the failure to instruct on §§ 53a-22 and 53a-23 and about whether the police officers were reasonably identifiable, the defendant sought review under State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 239-40 (1989), or, in the alternative, under the plain error doctrine. The Appellate Court concluded that the defendant's failure to alert the trial court to any potential errors and his affirmative expression of agreement with the proposed instructions constituted a waiver of the requirement that the state must ordinarily prove even the undisputed elements of the crime charged. Consequently, the defendant was not entitled to relief pursuant to Golding or the plain error doctrine. The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the defendant waived any constitutional or plain error claim that the instructions on the two charges deprived him of his right to a fair trial and his right to present a defense.