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Tag Archives: effective assistance

Criminal Practice – Attorneys – Effective Assistance – Witness Credibility – No Admission of Guilt – Defendant’s Age (access required)

State v. Vester Defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, assault by strangulation, assault on a female, and misdemeanor larceny. Even though defense counsel said in his opening statement that defendant didn’t try to set the victim on fire and never tried to choke her, and even though defense counsel admitted in his closing argument that the victim had “gone through something,” defense counsel did not implicitly concede that defendant was guilty of assault on a female and larceny. Defense counsel maintained throughout the trial that the jury should find defendant not guilty of any of the charges. Defendant has failed to show that his attorney rendered ineffective assistance of counsel.

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Criminal Practice – DWI – Constitutional – Attorneys – Effective Assistance – Opening & Closing Arguments – Prior Offenses – Stipulation (access required)

State v. Rouse Even though, in his opening and closing statements, defense counsel referred to the arresting officers as “very good officers,” counsel did so in the context of arguing that everyone makes mistakes. Counsel could have reasonably made a tactical decision to refrain from challenging the officers’ general professionalism and competence, while still encouraging the jury to find that the officers arrested defendant on May 23, 2010 as a result of their inadvertent mistakes.

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Criminal Practice – DWI – ‘Vehicle’ – Self-Propulsion Not Required – Jury Instructions – Constitutional – Effective Assistance (access required)

State v. Bettis The offense of driving while impaired only requires that a defendant drive a “vehicle”, not necessarily a “motor vehicle”; therefore, the trial court correctly refused to instruct the jury that the vehicle defendant was driving had to be self-propelled.

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Criminal Practice – Cocaine Trafficking – Constructive Possession – Seller’s Testimony – Constitutional – Effective Assistance – MAR  (access required)

State v. Johnson As to the trafficking in cocaine by possession charge against defendant, the state showed that defendant had constructive possession of the cocaine found in the vehicle in which defendant was a passenger: a co-occupant of the vehicle testified that the cocaine belonged to defendant, the cocaine was found in the vehicle “where [defendant]’s feet would have been,” and cocaine was also found on defendant’s person.

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Criminal Practice – Brady — Bullet Lead Analysis – Public Domain Critiques — Effective Assistance (access required)

U.S. v. Higgs A North Carolina death-row defendant convicted of kidnapping and murdering three women in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge cannot win post-conviction relief on a claim that the government failed to disclose before trial two FBI studies that undermined the government’s use of Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis that linked bullets used in the women’s murder and in other shootings to bullets found in defendant’s apartment...

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Criminal Practice – Cocaine Possession – Evidence – Eaten – Testing Impossible – Constitutional – Effective Assistance (access required)

State v. James Defendant ate the crack cocaine that had been seized at the time of his arrest, then he asked the magistrate how he could be charged with possession of the cocaine after he had eaten it. Under these circumstances, the trial court correctly allowed police officers to testify that the substance appeared to be crack cocaine and tested positive for cocaine in a field test. We find no error in defendant’s conviction of cocaine possession.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Habeas Corpus – Effective Assistance – Death Penalty (access required)

DeCastro v. Branker The 4th Circuit upholds denial of habeas relief for a North Carolina defendant sentenced to death for his role in the fatal stabbing of a husband and wife who owned a mobile home park where a co-defendant had lived; none of the multiple allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel by the lawyer who represented defendant at trial, from his investigation of the case to his decisions about witnesses presented at trial and sentencing, support defendant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

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