SEAN ADAMS v. COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION, SC 18810
Judicial District of Tolland at G.A. 19
Habeas; Whether the Petitioner was Denied a Fair Trial by the State's Failure to Disclose its Offer to a Witness that the Witness's Sentence in an Unrelated Matter Would be Shorter if he Cooperated with State in the Defendant's Trial. In 1996, in connection with a gang related shooting, the petitioner was charged with several crimes. One of the victims who survived the shooting, Andre Clark, entered a guilty plea in an unrelated matter to charges that carried a possible maximum combined sentence of thirty-five years. During the plea canvass, the court informed Clark that his sentence would be capped at four years depending on his cooperation with the state. Subsequently, at the petitioner's criminal trial, Clark identified the petitioner as one of the shooters. Clark stated that he decided to testify because he did not want his family to suffer anymore and he wanted revenge. During cross-examination, Clark was asked whether the state had extended any offers of consideration to him in exchange for his testimony, to which he responded in the negative. The jury found the petitioner guilty. Thereafter, the petitioner brought this habeas corpus action, claiming that the state, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), withheld impeachment evidence by failing to disclose that it had agreed to resolve favorably pending criminal charges against Clark in exchange for his testimony. The petitioner further alleged that he was deprived of a fair trial by the state's failure to correct Clark's testimony wherein he denied receiving any consideration in exchange for his testimony. The habeas court denied the petition and the petitioner appealed. Before the Appellate Court, the respondent commissioner conceded that by failing to disclose that Clark’s sentence would be capped at four years if he cooperated with the state, the state allowed the jury to be presented with false and misleading testimony. The commissioner further conceded that the state had an obligation to correct Clark's testimony. In light of those concessions, the Appellate Court (128 Conn. App. 389) observed that, for purposes of a Brady analysis, the only remaining issue was whether there was any reasonable likelihood that Clark's misleading testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury. The court opined that information that Clark's sentence was dependent on his cooperation with the state would have been damaging to Clark's credibility. It further determined that, if the jury had been presented with that information, there was a reasonable likelihood that it would have found a reasonable doubt as to the petitioner's involvement in the shooting. Thereafter, the court reversed the habeas court's judgment and remanded the matter to the habeas court with direction to grant the habeas petition. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will review the Appellate Court's decision.