Preparing for Habeas Trial
Habeas corpus trials generally happen at the Superior Court in Rockville, a location northeast of Hartford. Traveling to Rockville to testify may be difficult for lay witnesses who live far away. Habeas counsel must be mindful of these difficulties. Also, they should take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the attendance of such witnesses at the trial. Counsel should facilitate their attendance by providing or arranging public or private transportation. If this costs a lot and habeas counsel was court-appointed, counsel should obtain authorization. Authorization comes from the Office of Chief Public Defender to incur the expense.
To the extent possible, habeas counsel should pre-mark the petitioner’s exhibits in preparation for the habeas trial. Counsel should also place the exhibits on a thumb drive, in the event the court requests that they get additionally or solely submitted in that form. A copy of the exhibits, either in paper or electronic form, should get provided to opposing counsel. An additional thumb drive should be on hand to give to the judge as a courtesy should the judge so desire.
Direct and Cross Examination Outlines
Also, proper preparation for the habeas trial requires habeas counsel to prepare an outline of the direct examination or cross-examination of each anticipated witness. Direct examination outlines will ensure that evidence gets adduced on the essential elements and alleged facts of each claim.
In addition, cross-examination outlines will ensure that information central to the outcome of the case do not get admitted. See, e.g. Antonio A. v. Commissioner , 148 Conn. App. 825, 835-36 (“Our review of the transcript of the habeas trial reveals that trial counsel was not asked why he did not have a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist testify on the petitioner’s behalf. He got asked only whether he had asked such a person to review the videotape of the victim’s forensic interview…”), cert. denied, 312 Conn. 901 (2014). Overall, such outlines will ensure that in the midst of the trial, where counsel could get distracted, no important and necessary questions get omitted.