Gonzalez v. Commissioner of Correction

*********************************************** The “officially released” date that appears near the be- ginning of each opinion is the date the opinion will be pub- lished in the Connecticut Law Journal or the date it was released as a slip opinion. The operative date for the be- ginning of all time periods for filing postopinion motions and petitions for certification is the “officially released” date appearing in the opinion. All opinions are subject to modification and technical correction prior to official publication in the Connecticut Reports and Connecticut Appellate Reports. In the event of discrepancies between the advance release version of an opinion and the latest version appearing in the Connecticut Law Journal and subsequently in the Connecticut Reports or Connecticut Appellate Reports, the latest version is to be considered authoritative. The syllabus and procedural history accompanying the opinion as it appears in the Connecticut Law Journal and bound volumes of official reports are copyrighted by the Secretary of the State, State of Connecticut, and may not be reproduced and distributed without the express written permission of the Commission on Official Legal Publica- tions, Judicial Branch, State of Connecticut. *********************************************** PEDRO GONZALEZ v. COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION (AC 44229) Prescott, Elgo and Suarez, Js. Syllabus The petitioner, who had been convicted of various criminal offenses, sought a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance. During the pendency of his habeas action, the petitioner filed a motion seeking his immediate release from the custody of the respondent Commissioner of Correction. The petitioner claimed that his continued confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic consti- tuted an unnecessary risk to his life and that he had a 9 percent chance of survival if he contracted the COVID-19 virus while incarcerated. The habeas court conducted a remote hearing during which it heard testi- mony from the petitioner and F, the acting regional medical director for the Department of Correction. The court denied the petitioner’s motion, concluding that he failed to show that, during the early months of the pandemic, the respondent acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the eighth amendment to the United States constitution. The court reasoned that the respondent had provided the petitioner with adequate medical care and taken appropriate mea- sures to minimize his exposure to and risk of contracting COVID-19. The habeas court granted the petitioner certification to appeal. On appeal, he claimed that the habeas court improperly concluded that he had not established the deliberate indifference necessary to constitute an eighth amendment violation or that the respondent violated his rights under article first, §§ 8 and 9, of the Connecticut constitution. During the pendency of his appeal, the petitioner declined the department’s offer to provide him with doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that had been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Held: 1. The respondent’s claim that the petitioner’s appeal was moot because he declined the department’s offer to vaccinate him was unavailing; the petitioner’s appeal concerned the adequacy of the …

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