Casiano issued: law becomes slightly clearer

The CT Supreme Court issued State v. Casiano yesterday. Casiano was before the Supreme Court on a motion for review filed by the defendant.

Defendant sought to have counsel appointed to represent him in filing a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence. The trial court denied the request. The defendant appealed (both on the merits of the Motion and the denial of counsel). The Appellate Court remanded to the trial court with an order to appoint counsel to file a motion for review which was transferred to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court finds that there is a right to counsel to determine whether meritorious claims exist and if such claims exist, then right to counsel to file the Motion exists. If there are no meritorious claims, then there is no right to counsel in filing the Motion (Shouldn’t this be obvious?)

In doing so, the Court finds that a “Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence” fits within the statutory requirement of “any criminal action”.

In light of the nature of a motion to correct an illegal sentence, we conclude that, under our expansive interpretation of the term ‘‘any criminal action’’ in Gipson, that language is sufficiently broad in scope to encompass such a motion and any direct appeal from a denial of the motion. A motion to correct an illegal sentence under Practice Book § 43-22 constitutes a narrow exception to the general rule that, once a defendant’s sentence has begun, the authority of the sentencing court to modify that sentence terminates.

This does clear up an area of law that was causing some confusion; but how this will impact habeas corpus petitions remains to be seen. Another opinion recently issued held that there was no right to counsel when filing a Petition for a New Trial.

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