Maldonado v. Commissioner of Correction
The petitioner is held to a higher standard when claiming ineffective assistance of habeas counsel; the standard does not require the Appellate Court to hear improperly raised issues. Juan Maldonado was found guilty by a three judge panel of crimes including murder for the shooting death of Armando Rivero. At trial, Maldonado presented evidence of his affirmative defense of lack of capacity due to mental disease or defect, including medical reports concluding that Maldonado was a paranoid schizophrenic and in a psychotic state at the time of the murder. Maldonado appealed his conviction claiming that the court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a presentence psychiatric examination under C.G.S. §17a-566. The judgment was affirmed. Maldonado's first habeas petition alleging ineffective assistance by trial counsel was denied and affirmed on appeal. Maldonado filed this second habeas petition amended to allege ineffective assistance by trial, appellate and first habeas counsel. The habeas court dismissed the claim concerning trial counsel and denied the remaining claims. Maldonado appealed claiming that the habeas court abused its discretion in denying his petition for certification to appeal and erred in concluding that that neither trial counsel nor his previous habeas counsel provided ineffective assistance as to trial counsel's failure to move for a competency hearing. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal. The habeas court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for certification to appeal. The claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel was supported by facts reasonably available at the time of the first petition. The habeas court did not err in concluding that the claim was not based on new facts to permit a successive petition. The petitioner unsuccessfully claimed that the issue of whether trial counsel was ineffective must be reached in deciding whether habeas counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the question of trial counsel's ineffectiveness. The applicable standard does not require the Appellate Court to hear improperly raised issues. The habeas court correctly determined that the evidence did not support the claim that first habeas counsel was ineffective. The petitioner's trial, appellate and first habeas counsel all testified that they believed the petitioner was capable of understanding the nature of the criminal proceedings against him and of assisting in his defense.