STATE v. DANIEL OUELLETTE, SC 18273
Judicial District of New Britain
Criminal; Whether the Defendant was Entitled to a Hearing Pursuant to State v. Floyd to Determine Whether the State Withheld Exculpatory Information Concerning its Plea Agreement with a Key State's Witness. The defendant was charged with robbery, assault and other crimes after he and Pamela Levesque robbed a woman of her credit card and then attempted to use the credit card to purchase a camcorder at a department store. Levesque pleaded guilty to one count of robbery in the first degree in connection with the crimes and testified as a witness for the state at the defendant's trial. She testified that she had reached a plea agreement with the state that provided that the state would recommend that she receive a sentence of twenty years incarceration, suspended after ten years, followed by five years probation and further that the sentencing judge would be informed of her cooperation with the state if she testified truthfully in the defendant's case. After he had been found guilty and after Levesque had been sentenced, the defendant moved that the trial court enlarge the record to include the transcripts of Levesque's plea proceeding and sentencing hearing. He also requested an evidentiary hearing pursuant to State v. Floyd, 253 Conn. 700 (2000), to determine whether the state had failed to disclose exculpatory information at trial in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1983), claiming that the state knowingly presented testimony that was misleading as to the true nature of Levesque's plea agreement and sentencing expectations. The court granted the defendant's request as to the transcripts but denied his request for a Floyd hearing. The transcript of Levesque's sentencing revealed that the state did not recommend that she receive a sentence of ten years to serve but instead indicated only that there was a cap of twenty years suspended after ten. Levesque was ultimately sentenced to twelve years, suspended after three, and four years probation. On appeal, the defendant claimed he was denied a fair trial because the state withheld exculpatory evidence regarding Levesque's credibility in that, while the state represented that it would recommend that she receive the maximum sentence possible, it subsequently failed to do so. The Appellate Court (110 Conn. App. 401) rejected that claim and affirmed the defendant's convictions. While noting that it found the state's conduct "questionable," the Appellate Court concluded that there was no evidence that the state improperly withheld exculpatory evidence relating to Levesque's credibility. The Supreme Court subsequently granted the defendant's petition for certification limited to the following issue: "In circumstances where the prosecutor adduced evidence that the state had entered into a plea agreement with its key witness pursuant to which the state would seek a particular sentence but then, after the witness' trial testimony, the state recommended a different, more lenient sentence for the witness, did the Appellate Court improperly refuse to remand the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether the state's conduct violated the defendant's due process rights?"