State v. Milner
Appeal Mooted By Dismissal Of Underlying Habeas Corpus Action
Appellate Law - Criminal | Criminal Law
- Connecticut Supreme Court
- SC 18844
- Aug 20 2013 (Date Decided)
- Espinosa, J.
An appeal from a conviction for violation of probation was moot where the defendant pleaded guilty to the very conduct on which the probation violation finding was based and failed to maintain any type of challenge—collateral or otherwise—to the resulting conviction, extinguishing any controversy as to whether he violated the conditions of probation. Antonio Miller appealed from the judgment of the trial court finding him in violation of his probation claiming, inter alia, insufficient evidence to support the probation violation finding. While the appeal was pending, Miller pleaded guilty, under the Alford doctrine, to carrying a pistol without a permit, one of the charges underlying the probation violation finding. The Appellate Court dismissed as moot that part of his appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence in support of the probation violation finding. The defendant had contended that his challenge was not moot because, although he failed to appeal from the gun conviction, he filed a habeas corpus action collaterally attacking the gun conviction. The Appellate Court, reaching this issue of first impression, concluded that the collateral attack on the criminal conviction did not have the same effect as a direct appeal to revive the controversy such that mootness was averted. The Supreme Court granted certification to appeal limited to the question of whether the Appellate Court properly held moot an appeal from a violation of probation finding where the criminal conviction constituting the violation is being challenged in a habeas corpus action. During the pendency of the appeal, however, the defendant was released from prison and failed to appear before the habeas court for a status conference. That court dismissed the habeas corpus action. The defendant did not appeal the dismissal. Determining that the dismissal of the habeas action rendered the appeal before it moot, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot, sua sponte. The certified question presupposed the existence of a habeas corpus action. The dismissal of the habeas corpus action extinguished any claim to a live controversy in this appeal. The Court lacked jurisdiction to consider the merits of the appeal and declined to vacate the Appellate Court's decision. The defendant, the party seeking vacatur of the Appellate Court's decision, bore sole responsibility for the jurisdictional defect of the appeal.