STAMFORD – The state appeals court has denied Michelle Troconis’ request for an emergency hearing to remove her electronic surveillance device.
The Circuit Court of Appeals agrees with prosecutors that it has no jurisdiction over Troconis’ pending criminal proceedings related to the death and disappearance of Jennifer Dulos and all motions relating to the proceedings are pending in the state Supreme Court.
The motions were dismissed as “untimely” and the Court of Appeal can only intervene if the motions are denied by a Supreme Court justice — which has not happened, the order said.
“Under the circumstances of this case, the amendment was not rejected,” the order reads.
Defense attorney Jon Schoenhorn, who has represented Troconis since February, said Friday he would discuss next steps with his client.
“Since the lower court orders were made before I was involved, I had hoped that the appellate court would override its rules and allow constitutional questions,” he said. “The fact that the state criminal courts remain closed to everything except new arrests is a source of endless frustration for the criminal defense attorney board. I will discuss the next step with Michelle. A federal petition is an option.”
Schoenhorn filed the motion with the Court of Appeals on June 17, seeking to remove the requirement that his client, as a condition of her release from $2.1 million bail, be required to wear electronic surveillance at all times while she is in the case Jennifer Dulos is charged.
Schoenhorn has filed multiple motions for the same motion with the Higher Regional Court, but only priority matters have been heard since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his response to Schoenhorn, senior prosecutor Ronald Weller of the Supreme State Attorney’s Office of Appeals said in a filing with the Court of Appeals Monday that Troconis was seeking “preferential treatment” while other detainees were unable to get a bail hearing.
“The petitioner minimizes the extent of the disruption to our court system that this global pandemic has caused,” Weller said. “She’s already had her day, and several days, in court over her bond terms.”
Schoenhorn argues that the electronic surveillance device affects his client’s right to a fair trial because prosecutors can see her movements while she helps prepare her defense.
Troconis was charged with conspiracy to murder, tampering with evidence and obstructing prosecution in the case and is scheduled to appear in the state Supreme Court in Stamford on August 6.
In her last court appearance on February 5, Judge Gary White lifted some restrictions by expanding the conditions for Troconis to leave her home, Weller pointed out in his response.
However, White said Troconis must continue to wear the electronic monitoring device at all times. The Court of Appeals agreed with Weller’s contention that Schoenhorn should have appealed to the Court of Appeals within 10 days of White’s decision.
The Court of Appeals also agreed with Weller’s contention that the higher court did not have jurisdiction over Schoenhorn’s motion because the Supreme Court had not heard his previous motions on the same subject.
The Court of Appeals “can only alter or reverse an order of the trial court,” Weller said.
“However, the trial court has not yet ruled on the March 17 motion to review the bail conditions, and therefore there is no court order for (the appellate court) to modify or set aside,” Weller said in his response.
Many court operations, including bond hearings, have been conducted remotely in recent weeks, Justice Department officials told state lawmakers this week. It’s unclear whether Troconis’ August hearing will be held in person or via video, and whether the judge will consider Schoenhorn’s requests during that appearance.
Her former boyfriend, Fotis Dulos, died on January 30 of apparent suicide while facing murder and other charges in connection with the death and disappearance of his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos, who disappeared on May 24, 2019. The 50-year-old mother-of-five is believed dead by police based on blood found in the garage of her New Canaan home, where warrants say she was allegedly assaulted.
Kent Mawhinney, a former attorney and friend of Fotis Dulos, was also charged with conspiracy to murder. Mawhinney is being held on $2 million bail and his court hearing this week in the state Supreme Court in Stamford continued through September 3.
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