McMahon v. Sieminski
Although Connecticut's hunting statute, Connecticut General Statutes §53a-217e, defines certain conduct as negligent, as opposed to reckless, a §53a-217e violation does not prevent a decision that a defendant acted recklessly. Allegedly, the petitioner, who is color-blind, went deer hunting with a .44-caliber rifle, although hunting season was closed and he lacked a hunting license, and shot a 33-year-old man who had been walking his dog. The court convicted the petitioner of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm, in violation of C.G.S. §53a-55. He received an enhancement for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, pursuant to C.G.S. §53-202k. The petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he was punished twice for the same offense, the use of a firearm. The District Court deferred to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which concluded the legislature intended to apply §53-202k to convictions of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm. The petitioner also claimed that counsel did not hire a surveyor. The District Court followed the decision of the Connecticut Superior Court that this resulted from a strategic decision that the evidence could harm the petitioner. The petitioner also argued that C.G.S. §53a-55(a)(3) does not define "extreme indifference to human life" and "grave risk of death" and is unconstitutionally vague. The Connecticut Supreme Court found an individual of ordinary intelligence would have received fair warning the petitioner's conduct exhibited an extreme indifference to human life and posed a grave risk of death. Its conclusion was not objectively unreasonable. The fact that the petitioner's conduct qualified as negligent, in violation of C.G.S. §53a-217e, did not prevent a conclusion that the petitioner's conduct also exhibited an extreme indifference to human life and posed a grave risk of death. The petitioner failed to prove the statute is void for vagueness. Although the petitioner claimed he did not exhibit reckless disregard to human life, because he believed he was shooting a deer, his failure to immediately call the police was also considered. Rejecting his claim that evidence of recklessness was insufficient to find guilt, the District Court denied the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.