State v. Santiago
Following a competency report, the trial court's failure to hold a competency hearing pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §54-56d(e) and to render an explicit finding on the record as to the issue of competency did not constitute reversible error where, based on defense counsel's course of conduct, the defendant waived his right to such hearing and finding on the record regarding his competency to stand trial. Following a court trial, Vincent Santiago was convicted on counts of criminal possession of a firearm and possession of a sawed-off shotgun. He appealed contending first, that the court erred in failing to hold a hearing on and make a finding as to his competency to stand trial after ordering an evaluation under C.G.S. §54-56d. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The first claim was unpreserved and waived and, therefore, not reviewed on the merits. In a written report an evaluation team unanimously determined, without qualification, that the defendant was competent to stand trial. The defendant's attorney, Richard Cramer, told the court that he probably would waive the competency hearing but wanted to review the report before making his final decision. He expressly waived the 10 day statutory deadline for holding the hearing. Trial ensued and the unresolved issue of the competency hearing was not reraised until sentencing. The Appellate Court concluded that based upon Cramer's course of conduct, the defendant waived his right to a full competency hearing and finding on the record regarding competency. Cramer's silence and inaction regarding the resumption of the competency hearing only could be understood to constitute the voluntary abandonment of a known right of his client. Secondly, the trial court properly denied the defendant's motion to suppress a rifle obtained during a police search of his apartment. The defendant's claim on appeal, that his purported consent to the search was the product of a misleading claim of lawful authority, was diametrically opposed to his claim below, that his consent was the product of the officers' impermissible use of coercive tactics and physical force. The court's findings that the defendant voluntarily made statements and freely consented to the search were not clearly erroneous and the motion's denial was supported by the facts. While an officer's statement that he had a search warrant for the defendant and his guns was ambiguous as to the guns' location, no unreasonable deception vitiated the voluntary nature of the defendant's consent.