- Court: Oregon Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Post-Conviction Relief
- Date Filed: 06-27-2013
- Case #: S059686
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Landau, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; and Baldwin, J.; Walters, J., dissented
Defendant appealed the post-conviction court's dismissal of his inadequate counsel claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Defendant was convicted of aggravated murder. When Defendant was charged there were two sentencing options for individuals convicted of aggravated murder, the death penalty or life with the possibility of parole (ordinary life). Later that year, the law was amended to include life without parole (true life). At sentencing, the jury was informed of all three options. Defendant argued that he received inadequate counsel when it failed to object to the application of the amended sentencing law to his case. The post-conviction court ultimately found that Defendant did not prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he was prejudiced as a result of counsel's failure. Defendant appealed, arguing that the standard applied was too high and against federal case law. Under ORS 138.620(2), facts alleged in an attempt to gain post-conviction relief must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. In accordance with the statute, the Court held that the proper standard of proof in post-conviction court for a claim of inadequate counsel is the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard. The United States Supreme Court has also indicated that the preponderance standard is not an improper standard of proof for factual contentions raised in post-conviction courts. Affirmed.