State v. Bryant

In State v. Bryant, 202 Conn. 676, 523 A.2d 451 (1987), the court ruled that to lay a proper foundation for the impeachment of an alibi witness on the basis of his or her failure to come forward prior to trial to tell the police about a defendant's alibi, it may be necessary to establish that the witness (1) was aware of the nature of the charges, (2) had reason to recognize that he or she possessed exculpatory information, (3) had a reasonable motive for acting to exonerate the defendant, and (4) was familiar with the means to make such information available to the authorities. Id., 705. The court in Bryant reasoned that laying a proper foundation for an alibi witness' silence may aid the trier of fact in determining whether the witness' testimony is accurate or a recent fabrication. Id. Further, the court reasoned that "common sense and human experience may indicate, in a given case, that there may be explanations for a witness' pretrial silence that are entirely consistent with that witness' posture at trial." Id. Thus, the court in Bryant was concerned with a "witness who is cast in the posture of having been silent as to claimed exculpatory testimony and is not given a real opportunity to explain that silence . . . ." Id., 704.