Daily Archives: October 18, 2006

Murder conviction for DWI death

I’m not one to comment on convictions in other states (at least not on a regular basis), but this story caught my eye. Martin Heigden was tried and convicted of Murder 2 for driving his car while intoxicated. He was on the wrong side of the highway and crashed into a limousine, killing a 7-year old girl. The DA opted to go for broke and charged him with murder, instead of the more routine manslaughter. I’m sure everyone can discern the petrinet legal issues on appeal, so I won’t dwell on that. What interested me more was this paragraph:

After the verdict, jurors said they thought Heidgen must have known
what he was doing as he headed in the wrong direction on the parkway
for more than two miles. But they said there were two jurors who did
not agree at first, and tempers on both sides flared.

Ultimately, though, they said they knew what they had to do.

"Once we finally put it on paper, guilty, guilty, it just became so
emotional in that moment," said a juror named Michelle, 38, of
Roosevelt, who would not give her last name. "Once it was sealed, ready
to go downstairs, it was like a big weight off our shoulders, it just
became very emotional for everybody."

Emphasis mine.

    So despite the fact that they were hung on intent, "they knew what they had to do". Mind-boggling. What does that mean, except that they knew they had to return a verdict of guilty on the murder charge? Does that mean that the two dissenting jurors were badgered into changing their vote? Will they come forward?

Am I the only one feeling discomfort from that quote?

Abuse of the writ?

Finally, some good language from a Habeas decision [pdf]! In this opinion, released today, the Appellate Court clarifies whether SCOTUS’ decision in McCleskey v. Zant applies in Connecticut.

‘‘[A] petitioner may bring successive petitions on the same legal grounds if the  petitions seek different relief. . . . But where successive petitions are premised on the same legal grounds and seek the same relief, the second petition will not survive a motion to dismiss unless the petition is supported by allegations and facts not reasonably available to the petitioner at the time of the original petition.’’ (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) McClendon v. Commissioner of Correction, 93 Conn. App. 228, 231, 888 A.2d 183, cert. denied, 277 Conn. 917, 895 A.2d 789 (2006).

Zant held that cause and prejudice applied where an issue that could been raised in a prior habeas is raised for the first time in a subsequent habeas:

The respondent argues, however, as an alternate ground for affirming the dismissal of the claim against Cone, that we should adopt the rule set forth in McCleskey v. Zant, 499 U.S. 467, 111 S. Ct. 1454, 113 L. Ed. 2d 517 (1991). In McCleskey, the United States Supreme Court held that the ability to raise a claim in a federal habeas proceeding that could have been brought in a prior federal habeas proceeding is subject to the cause and prejudice analysis.

The Court disposes of this argument summarily (and wonderfully, for defense counsel):

Neither our Supreme Court nor this court has adopted the rule set forth in McCleskey for state habeas proceedings.

Simple. Love it.