State v. Cayo
Under the plain language of Connecticut General Statute §51-193u(c), giving the magistrate the authority to enter nolles, the entry of a nolle prosequi is a "decision of the magistrate" as that phrase is used in C.G.S. §51-193u(d) and, thus, is a decision from which a demand for a trial de novo can be made. Andre Cayo appealed, including from the judgment of the Superior Court entering a nolle prosequi brought by the state's attorney on the infraction of operating a motor vehicle with an obstructed windshield in violation of C.G.S. §14-99f(c). The defendant contended that his rights under C.G.S. §54-56b and Practice Book §39-30 were violated when the magistrate entered the nolle over his objection and that the trial court improperly refused his demand for a trial de novo and motion to dismiss the nolle and infraction. The Appellate Court agreed and reversed the judgment. The panel was not persuaded by the state's argument that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motions after the nolle entered and that the Appellate Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the appeal, because the decision to enter a nolle is within the sole discretion of the prosecutor and was not a "decision of the magistrate," as that phrase is used in C.G.S. §51-193u(d). Implicit in the magistrate's authority under C.G.S. §51-193u(c) to enter nolles, is the authority to not enter or accept nolles. The magistrate's entry of a nolle over the defendant's objection constituted a decision of the magistrate, from which, pursuant to C.G.S. §51-193u(d), the defendant had the right to demand a trial de novo. Although he made a timely demand, the clerk's office rejected it, informing the defendant he had no such right. The court had jurisdiction and the defendant's appeal was properly before the Appellate Court. The defendant's rights under C.G.S. §54-56b and Practice Book §39-30 were violated. The state unsuccessfully argued that the defendant's ticket or summons was not a complaint and that C.G.S. §54-56b did not apply. The defendant's infraction ticket was a complaint and he was entitled to object to the nolle and demand a trial or dismissal. The matter was remanded. The defendant was entitled either to his day in court or to a dismissal of the infraction.