State v. Gauthier
Courts have wide discretion whether to admit prior inconsistent statements that have not satisfied the typical foundational requirements of Connecticut Code of Evidence §6-10(c). Following a jury trial, John Gauthier was convicted of assault in the second degree in connection with a physical altercation in which he allegedly dug his fingers into the eyes of the victim leading to a complete loss of vision and severe deviation of the victim's right eye. He appealed claiming that the court's denial of his request for a continuance violated his constitutional right to present a defense. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the request of even a relatively short continuance, where there was no abuse of discretion in the court's preemptive evidentiary rulings and where the evidence sought to be admitted would have made no difference in the outcome. During trial, the court granted the defendant's second request to represent himself and appointed his counsel, special public defender Raul Davila, as standby counsel. After the state rested, the defendant requested a continuance to call one witness, Davila's investigator, Donald Light, who was unavailable that morning. The defendant sought to have Light testify regarding two witnesses' prior statements that the defendant contended were inconsistent with their in-court testimony. The court denied the request for a continuance reasoning that to the extent that there were inconsistencies between the statements to Light and the in-court testimony, neither Davila, who cross examined one witness, Kevin Haythe, nor the defendant who cross-examined the other, Eldridge Evans, had asked the witnesses about any such inconsistencies. A proper foundation was not laid under Connecticut Code of Evidence §6-10(c) and the Appellate Court could not say that the trial court abused its wide discretion in the ruling. Because the court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that Light's proffered testimony was inadmissible, especially in view of the fact that the request for a continuance was made during trial, the defendant could not meet his burden of showing that the denial of the continuance was arbitrary and an abuse of discretion.