Monday, January 31, 2011

Featured Case - State v. Kadijah: Is "Oversleeping" Willful Criminal Conduct?

State v. Kadijah is a Connecticut Appellate Court decision. The defendant, charged with three counts of drug posession, failed to appear at the appointed time for the second day of jury selection for her trial.  Her lawyer called her to discover that she had overslept and counsel represented to the court that the defendant was en route.  The court declined to wait and entered an order for re-arrest moments before the defendant arrived at the courthouse. Prosecutors added a charge of felony "willful failure to appear" (see statutory language below).  Subsequently, the defendant's motion to suppress evidence in the drug cases was granted and the drug charges were nolled.  The prosecution proceeded to trial on the willful failure to appear charges, only. At trial, the defendant testified that: she had worked at her regularly scheduled job delivering newspapers the night before from approx 1-8 AM.  She arrived home and sat on the couch to rest.  She instructed her boyfriend to wake her if she fell asleep.  She did fall asleep and did not wake up until she received a phone call from her lawyer.  Upon receiving the call, she proceeded immediately to the courthouse. Upon these facts, the court determined that the jury's guilty verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, of "willfullness" and entered a judgment of not guilty.  Read the NY Times article.  Here is another link to an unofficial report of the case decision. And, just to make sure we are wearing suspenders AND a belt, here is another and here is another.  (The Connecticut Supreme Court dismissed the appeal per curiam stating that certification had been improvidently granted.)

Ayanna Kadijah:

General Statutes § 53a-172 (a) provides in relevant part: ‘‘A person is
guilty of failure to appear in the first degree when (1) while charged with
the commission of a felony and while out on bail or released under other
procedure of law, he wilfully fails to appear when legally called according to the terms of his bail bond or promise to appear . . . .’’

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