H.P.T. v. Commissioner of Correction
Regardless of whether a habeas petitioner’s successful claim of ineffective assistance of counsel during plea negotiations arises by way of a subsequent plea agreement or conviction after trial, the proper remedy remains the same in most cases—remanding the case to the trial court. H.P.T. was convicted, following a jury trial, of crimes including sexual assault in the second degree, assault and risk of injury to a child. H.P.T. was sentenced to a total effective term of 23 years’ incarceration, execution suspended after 13 years with 10 years’ probation. His convictions were affirmed on appeal. H.P.T. petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that his initial counsel, Thompson Page, failed to communicate and adequately advise the petitioner, whose native language was Vietnamese, concerning a plea offer by the court of 20 years’ incarceration, execution suspended after 9 years with 20 years’ probation. H.P.T. claimed that because the offer was not translated or explained, he lacked an understanding of it. The habeas court granted the petition, in part, concluding that Page rendered ineffective assistance by failing to provide adequate advice regarding the offer and directed the sentencing court to vacate the sentence and resentence the petitioner in accordance with the plea offer’s proposed sentence. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The respondent commissioner of correction appealed. The sole issue was whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the habeas court’s order providing a remedy for ineffective assistance during plea negotiations. Finding an improper remedy ordered, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment. In the 2012 case of Ebron v. Commissioner of Correction, the Connecticut Supreme Court applied the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Lafler v. Cooper. Those decisions demonstrate that, regardless of whether a successful claim of ineffective assistance of counsel during plea negotiations arises by way of a subsequent plea agreement or conviction after trial, the proper remedy remains the same in most cases, namely, remanding the case to the trial court which may have access to more information about the petitioner and crime and is vested with the discretion to, as Ebron states, “place the habeas petitioner, as nearly as possible in the position that he would have been in if there had been no violation” of his right to counsel. The matter was remanded with direction.