CT: Def counsel’s choice to distance def from bedroom with drug was reasonable

Defendant argued defense counsel was ineffective for not pursuing a motion to suppress the search of a bedroom he stayed in in the house of another. The testimony was conflicting. Defendant said that he had exclusive use of the bedroom, kept the door shut, paid rent, and determined who could come and go from there. Other witnesses, however, testified he only stayed in the house maybe twice a month. The chances of success of such a motion were slim at best because of the apparent authority of others–it sure wasn’t probably successful. More importantly, however, defense counsel made a strategic choice to avoid attaching defendant to the room to show nonexclusive use to show that others could be responsible for the contents, and that was reasonable. Crawley v. Comm’r of Corr., 2019 Conn. App. LEXIS 439 (Nov. 26, 2019):

In considering the viability of a motion to suppress that is based on a theory of exclusive possession of the bedroom, Freeman necessarily had to weigh its limited probability of success against its potential impact on a contrary theory of defense predicated on the petitioner’s nonexclusive use of the bedroom. As both Freeman and the petitioner confirmed at the habeas trial, Freeman’s objective was to distance the petitioner from the cocaine found in the bedroom. Freeman also had to be mindful that any suppression hearing testimony provided by the petitioner regarding his exclusive possession of the bedroom in question could be used against him at trial for impeachment purposes. See United States v. Jaswal, 47 F.3d 539, 543-44 (2d Cir. 1995) (holding that defendant’s testimony at suppression hearing can be used to impeach defendant’s testimony at trial but not to prove guilt); State v. Vega, 163 Conn. 304, 307-308, 306 A.2d 855 (1972) (defendant’s testimony at suppression hearing admissible at subsequent trial as prior inconsistent statement). For that reason, we agree with the habeas court that the pursuit of a motion to suppress predicated on the petitioner’s allegedly exclusive possession of the bedroom was one fraught with risk.

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