that the decisionmaker is reasonably, conscientiously, and impartially applying In the context of the sentencing phase of a capital trial, it means that the deficient representation prevented the judge or jury from properly balancing aggravating and mitigating factors. And, rejecting the strict "outcome-determinative" test employed by some courts, the Court adopts as the appropriate standard for prejudice a requirement that the defendant, "show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different,". Tennessee, 406 U.S. 605 (1972) (requirement that defendant be first defense A206-A243. They also make clear that, even assuming the challenged conduct of counsel was unreasonable, respondent suffered insufficient prejudice to warrant setting aside his death sentence. governing the performance of defense counsel. Assistance of Counsel for his defence.". David Washington pleaded guilty to murder in a Florida state court. In short, inquiry into counsel's conversations with the defendant may be critical to a proper assessment of counsel's investigation decisions, just as it may be critical to a proper assessment of counsel's other litigation decisions. See Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. at 455 U. S. 515-520. The State put on evidence and witnesses largely for the purpose of describing the details of the crimes. If they denote nothing more than that a defendant claiming he was denied effective assistance of counsel has the burden of proof, I. would agree. In preparation for the sentencing hearing, the defendant’s attorney did not obtain character witnesses, nor did he order a pre-sentence report. ); id. intuitions regarding what constitutes "professional" representation, On the other hand, the consequences to the defendant of incompetent assistance at a capital sentencing could not, of course, be greater. The The debilitating ambiguity of an "objective standard of reasonableness" in this context is illustrated by the majority's failure to address important issues concerning the quality of representation mandated by the Constitution. 353, 354-355, 397 N.E.2d 975, 976 (1979). In particular, a court need not determine whether counsel's performance was deficient before examining the prejudice suffered by the defendant as a result of the alleged deficiencies. proper assessment of counsel's investigation decisions, just as it may be 2d 674, 1984 U.S. LEXIS 79, 52 U.S.L.W. at 1255 (footnote omitted). There are countless ways to provide effective assistance in any given case. [Footnote 2/11]. Justice O'Connor's ability to gain a majority in this decision prevented the antiquated "farce and mockery standard," a standard extremely difficult to achieve for an appellant, from making a return. Moreover, respondent's admission of a course of stealing rebutted many of the factual allegations in the affidavits. Counsel must have "wide latitude" to make "reasonable tactical decisions" lest the requirements for constitutionally effective assistance distract counsel from "the overriding mission of vigorous advocacy of the defendant's cause." See Trapnell v. United States, 725 F.2d 149, 151-152 (CA2 1983); App. at 1288-1291 (opinion of Hill, J. By the date set for trial, respondent was subject to indictment for three counts of first-degree murder and multiple counts of robbery, kidnaping for ransom, breaking and entering and assault, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit robbery. In Strickland v.Washington (1986) the U.S. Supreme Court designed standards for determining when an attorney’s assistance has been so ineffective that it … Even if a defendant shows that particular errors of counsel were unreasonable, therefore, the defendant must show that they actually had an adverse effect on the defense. decisions regarding how best to represent a criminal defendant. The object of an ineffectiveness claim is not to grade counsel's performance. Thus, "when counsel's assumptions are reasonable, given the totality of the circumstances, and when counsel's strategy represents a reasonable choice based upon those assumptions, counsel need not investigate lines of defense that he has chosen not to employ at trial.". and made all significant decisions in the exercise of reasonable professional Counsel's function is to assist the defendant, and hence counsel owes In the course of one of the murders, respondent knowingly subjected numerous persons to a grave risk of death by deliberately stabbing and shooting the murder victim's sisters-in-law, who sustained severe -- in one case, ultimately fatal -- injuries. manifestly ineffective attorney. In making the determination whether the specified errors Finally, in a federal habeas challenge to a state criminal judgment, a state court conclusion that counsel rendered effective assistance is not a finding of fact binding on the federal court to the extent stated by 28 U.S.C. burden of proof, I would agree. a different approach to the definition of constitutionally effective assistance. The availability of intrusive post-trial inquiry into attorney performance or of detailed guidelines for its evaluation would encourage the proliferation of ineffectiveness challenges. As JUSTICE MARSHALL emphasized last Term: "This Court has always insisted that the need for procedural safeguards is particularly great where life is at stake. through the Due Process Clauses, but it defines the basic elements of a fair Thus, an inquiry into a claim of harmless error here would require, unlike most cases, unguided speculation.". whimsy, caprice, "nullification," and the like. Among the factors relevant to deciding whether particular strategic choices are reasonable are the experience of the attorney, the inconsistency of unpursued and pursued lines of defense, and the potential for prejudice from taking an unpursued line of defense. At his plea hearing, Washington told the judge he had committed the burglaries, which escalated to more serious crimes, while under extreme financial stress. Moreover, it is difficult to measure the precise effect on the defense of representation corrupted by conflicting interests. Jurek v. Texas, 428 U. S. 262, 428 U. S. 276 (1976) (opinion of Stewart, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ.). rigid rule of presumed prejudice for conflicts of interest. Id. 679 F.2d 23 (1982). inevitable, is anything but precise. Respondent's claims were "shown conclusively to be without merit, so as to obviate the need for an evidentiary hearing." The majority suggests that, "[f]or purposes of describing counsel's duties," a capital sentencing proceeding "need not be distinguished from an ordinary trial." Nor did he request a psychiatric examination, since his conversations with his client gave no indication that respondent had psychological problems. Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, see Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U. S. 153, 428 U. S. 227 (1976) (BRENNAN, J., dissenting), I would vacate respondent's death sentence and remand the case for further proceedings. 1. The result of a proceeding can be rendered unreliable, and hence the proceeding itself unfair, even if the errors of counsel cannot be shown by a preponderance of the evidence to have determined the outcome. There are no conflicts between the state and federal courts over findings of fact, and the principles we have articulated are sufficiently close to the principles applied both in the Florida courts and in the District Court that it is clear that the factfinding was not affected by erroneous legal principles. state crime has the right to have counsel appointed if retained counsel cannot Criminal trials resolved unfavorably to the defendant would increasingly come to be followed by a second trial, this one of counsel's unsuccessful defense. Third, the argument and memorandum given to the sentencing judge were "admirable" in light of the overwhelming aggravating circumstances and absence of mitigating circumstances. I would thus performance and even willingness to serve could be adversely affected. Representation of a criminal defendant entails certain basic duties. Cf. See App. An ineffective assistance claim In particular, the minor differences in the lower courts' precise formulations of the performance standard are insignificant: the different formulations are mere variations of the overarching reasonableness standard. resolved unfavorably to the defendant would increasingly come to be followed by prejudice. 466 U. S. supra. ); id. colorable grounds therefor could profitably be made the subject of uniform The majority's comments on this point seem to be prompted principally by a reluctance to acknowledge that today's decision will require a reassessment of many previously rejected ineffective assistance of counsel claims. He did not order a psychiatric evaluation of his client. Id. Nevertheless, putting guilty plea cases to one side, the court attempted to classify cases presenting issues concerning the scope of the duty to investigate before proceeding to trial. . using different legal standards. The aggravating circumstances were utterly overwhelming. Id. See Michel v. Louisiana, 350 U. S. 91, 350 U. S. 100 -101 (1955). Failure to make the required showing of either deficient performance or sufficient prejudice defeats the ineffectiveness claim.
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