STATE v. ANTONIO MILNER, SC 18844
Judicial District of Hartford
Criminal; Violation of Probation; Mootness; Whether Appellate Court Properly Held Moot an Appeal from Violation of Probation Finding Where the Criminal Conviction Constituting the Violation was Being Challenged in Habeas Corpus Action. In August, 2005, the petitioner began serving the three year probationary term of his sentence for a burglary conviction. One of the conditions of his probation was that he not violate any criminal laws. In January, 2008, the petitioner was arrested and charged with multiple criminal offenses as well as with violating the terms of his probation. After finding that the defendant violated the conditions of his probation, the trial court decided that his probation should be revoked. The petitioner appealed to the Appellate Court (130 Conn. App. 19). During the pendency of the appeal, the petitioner pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine to one of the criminal charges that formed the basis for the violation of probation charge. Although he did not pursue a timely direct appeal from that conviction, the defendant did file a habeas petition challenging it. In light of the guilty plea and the lack of a direct appeal from the conviction, the Appellate Court, relying on State v. Singleton, 274 Conn. 426 (2005), and State v. T. D., 286 Conn. 353 (2008), determined that there was no longer any controversy over whether the defendant had engaged in the criminal conduct at issue and, therefore, that his claim that there was insufficient evidence to support the finding of a probation violation was moot. In so deciding, the court held that the pending habeas petition did not serve to revive the controversy such that mootness would be averted. In explaining why a collateral attack on an intervening conviction does not have the same effect as a direct appeal, the court observed that, for policy reasons, the significant consideration for determining whether an appeal from a violation of probation finding is moot due to a conviction on an underlying charge is whether the conviction is final. The Appellate Court held that, for jurisprudential purposes, a conviction is final when no appeal is taken or if a direct appeal is decided adversely to the defendant. The Supreme Court will now review the Appellate Court's decision.