Oliphant v. Commissioner of Correction
Given a history of prior habeas petitions and appeals, the habeas petitioner could not claim he was denied access to the courts. Anthony Oliphant was convicted, following a jury trial, of larceny for simultaneously receiving welfare benefits from Hartford and Meriden. The conviction was affirmed on appeal. His amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus was dismissed. The dismissal was affirmed on appeal. While on probation, Oliphant struggled with officers arresting him on assault charges. After finding that he committed the crimes of assault, interfering with an officer and threatening, the court revoked his probation and sentenced him to serve six and a half years. The judgment was affirmed on appeal. Thereafter, Oliphant filed multiple habeas petitions pro se. His initial counsel filed amended consolidated petitions and withdrew for health-related reasons. Oliphant's second appointed counsel, Robert McKay, moved to withdraw and filed an Anders brief, under the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case of Anders v. California. The habeas court granted the motion, finding no nonfrivolous issues to be tried. The court declined to appoint further counsel. Following a show cause hearing to explain why the issues raised in Oliphant's consolidated petition were not wholly frivolous, the court dismissed the habeas petition and denied certification to appeal. Oliphant appealed, raising multiple claims, including that the court abused its discretion by denying his petition for certification to appeal and improperly granted McKay's motion to withdraw. The Appellate Court dismissed the appeal. The record was inadequate to review the claim that the court improperly granted McKay's motion to withdraw and improperly failed to find that McKay failed to provide the petitioner with documents accompanying the Anders brief, contravening the 1971 Connecticut Supreme Court case of State v. Pascucci. The petitioner also unsuccessfully claimed that both Anders and Pascucci required counsel to look beyond the record. Anders requires a conscientious review of the record. The petitioner claimed he was not competent to represent himself but identified no record supporting his claim of incompetence. He could not demonstrate that he was denied access to the courts given the lengthy procedural history regarding his claims dating to 1995. The petitioner was not entitled to appointed counsel after the court determined his claims were wholly frivolous.