Ruiz v. Warden
To prevail on a writ of habeas corpus, a petitioner who alleges that trial counsel failed to examine a witness adequately at a Jarzbek hearing is required to prove that, but for counsel's ineffective assistance, the results of trial would have been different. The government charged the petitioner, Jesus Ruiz, with first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. The defense claimed that the victim fabricated the allegations of sexual assaults to deflect blame about lying about a relative's threats. The prosecutor requested the court's permission to tape the victim's testimony, pursuant to State v. Jarzbek, a 1987 Connecticut Supreme Court decision. The petitioner was convicted and sentenced to 17 years, execution suspended after 12 years. The petitioner's conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. He filed a writ of habeas corpus and alleged that trial and appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance. The petitioner argued that trial counsel failed to examine a witness adequately at a Jarzbek hearing. To prevail, the petitioner must prove that a reasonable probability exists that, but for counsel's ineffective assistance, the results of trial would have been different. Ruling on an issue of apparent first impression in Connecticut, the court found that the petitioner must prove that the trial results were affected, as opposed to establishing that, but for counsel's ineffective assistance, the results of the Jarzbek hearing on permitting the government to tape the victim's testimony would have been different. No evidence existed that the then 11-year-old victim's testimony would have differed, if the victim had testified at the trial. The victim's memory seemed good. The victim included descriptions that seemed unlikely to be the result of suggestion and admitted that she resented the attention her mother gave the petitioner. The victim did not recant and her testimony did not waver. "Assuming, arguendo, that the victim had to testify in person and in the presence of the petitioner," wrote the court, "there was absolutely no persuasive evidence . . . that her testimony or believability would have been altered." The court denied the petitioner's request for a writ of habeas corpus.