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All defendants have the right to have effective counsel. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reviews ineffective assistance of counsel claims under a two-part test mandated by the United States Supreme Court. The test requires the defendant to show that the counsel’s performance was constitutionally deficient and that counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced the defense. If the defendant does not make both showings, then it cannot be said that it the conviction resulted from a breakdown in the adversary process that renders the result of reliable.
Appeals court begins its analysis with a strong presumption that the defense attorney’s conduct fell within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. The defendant must overcome this presumption and demonstrate that counsel’s representation was unreasonable under the prevailing professional norms and that the challenged action cannot be considered sound trial strategy. The issue is whether counsel exercise the skill, judgment, and diligence of a reasonably competent defense attorney in light of his overall performance.
The defendant argued that his attorney was ineffective because the attorney failed to file a motion in limine to exclude the victims alleged hearsay statements. However, the appellate court found that the statements were nontestimonial hearsay, and therefore, the evidence did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights. When a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel can be disposed of on the ground of lack of prejudice, then that course of action will be followed. You should hire the best Tulsa criminal defense attorney.
To demonstrate prejudice, a defendant must show that there was a reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would’ve been different had a not been for defense counsel’s unprofessional errors. The likelihood of a different result must be substantial, not just conceivable.
The defendant next argued that his defense attorney was ineffective because he failed to investigate or present evidence on potential causes for the injuries to the victim’s hand. Defendant had a swollen hand and his fingernails were bleeding when the police talked to him. He said the cut was due to a disease, and that he had cut his finger at work.
The defendant argued that his attorney had a duty to conduct a reasonable investigation to find evidence that can be used to support a defense or discredit a piece of states evidence.
Court rules allow a defendant to request an evidentiary hearing for an appeal when it’s alleged on appeal that the trial court defense attorney was ineffective for failing to utilize available evidence which could have made a difference during the course of the trial. When this request is properly submitted, the appellate court reviews the application to see if it contains sufficient evidence to show that there’s a strong possibility trial counsel was ineffective for failing to utilize or identify complained of evidence. The defendant explained that an investigator requested to defense attorney to interview someone to see if he remembered anything about the injury to the defendant’s finger or hand. That person was interviewed but he could not remember any specifics concerning how the cut occurred because the injury happened a long time ago.
In order to meet the clear and convincing standard for ineffective assistance of counsel, the defendant must present evidence, not speculation. There also cannot be any second guesses or innuendo. The appellate court will not hold defense attorney to be ineffective for failing to investigate every possible avenue of defense. The defense counsel may make strategic choices based on less than complete investigation that will be considered reasonable to the extent that reasonable professional judgment supports the limitations on the investigation.
The defendant also argued that a simple Google search would support the contention that his disease can settle in a person’s hand. The court of criminal appeals said that it’s not clear whether the defendant that is arguing that the defense counsel failed to contact such a short search or if he’s asking the court to do it. Additionally there was no evidence that the defendant actually suffered from that disease. Therefore the defendant failed to show that he was prejudiced by the absence of any evidence regarding the effects of his disease on his hands.
The defendant also claimed that his attorney was ineffective for failing to thoroughly cross-examine the victim’s daughter. He asserted that his attorney failed to argue inconsistencies between witnesses. The appeals court disagreed. The defendant also claimed that his attorney was ineffective for failing to impeach witnesses regarding the victim’s history of falling. The appellate court reviewed a DVD copy of the police interview with the witness. The reviewing court found the relevance.
The defendant next had concerns about his attorney talking about the defendant’s mental health, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale. The defendant said that his attorney was not acting as his advocate when he informed the jury during opening statement that the defendant was a multiple convicted felon who had been institutionalized in a mental hospital. The defendant claims he was never consulted on the decision to proceed in that manner. He further found his attorney to be ineffective for telling the jury at different times in the trial that he was hard to get along with, had issues with women, refused to cooperate in testing, and acted like an ogre.
A defense attorney must act as an advocate and subject the states case to adversarial testing. The defendant must overcome the strong presumption that counsel’s conduct fell within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance and equaled sound trial strategy. The defense attorney informed the jury that his clients past was not good. He said that it been spent in prison and that he was not a favorite son. The defendant had spent time in juvenile homes. However, the defense attorney explained that despite this history, the defendant had family who loved and cared for him and let him moved into their home when he had no place to live. The defense attorney admitted that his client picked up some bad habits in his life and did not know how to relate to women. The attorney told the jury that was important for them to understand the dynamics of what was going on in the family. The decision regarding legal arguments to be made is a matter of trial strategy, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale.