- Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
- Date Filed: 05-18-2022
- Case #: A169945
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Hellman, J. for the Court; Mooney, P.J.; & DeVore, S.J.
- Full Text Opinion
Petitioner appealed a judgment denying him post-conviction relief. Petitioner assigned error to the post-conviction court’s denial of one of his inadequate assistance of counsel claims. Petitioner argued that, because his trial counsel failed to impeach a witness for the state, he was deprived of adequate assistance of counsel, which violated his constitutional rights. Respondent argued that directly impeaching the witness would have opened the door to the witness testifying that he came forward based on his moral obligations. Under the Oregon Constitution, to be entitled to post-conviction relief based on a claim of inadequate assistance of counsel, “a petitioner must prove two elements: first, that trial counsel failed to exercise reasonable professional skill and judgment, and second, that the petitioner suffered prejudice as a result of counsel’s inadequacy.” Or. Const. art. I, § 11. The Court found that the post-conviction court erred in concluding that Petitioner's counsel exercised the professional skill and judgment required by Article I, section 11, because his counsel failed to conduct an appropriate cost-benefit analysis that accurately reflected either the potential benefits or risks of impeaching the witness. Further, the trial court's guilty verdicts on the counts were largely determined by the witness's credibility and testimony, and evidence suggesting the witness came forward for self-interest rather than a "moral obligation" could well have affected how much weight the trial court placed on the witness's testimony. Reversed and remanded.