What is the test for a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from The People v. Navarro, F056935, No. VCF187188 (Cal. App. 2010):

The rules for analyzing a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel are well settled. A defendant is entitled to a new trial if he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. (People v. Lagunas (1994) 8 Cal.4th 1030, 1036.) "Establishing a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel requires the defendant to demonstrate (1) counsel's performance was deficient in that it fell below an objective standard of reasonableness under prevailing professional norms, and (2) counsel's deficient representation prejudiced the defendant, i.e., there is a 'reasonable probability' that, but for counsel's failings, defendant would have obtained a more favorable result. [Citations.] A 'reasonable probability' is one that is enough to undermine confidence in the outcome. [Citations.]

"Our review is deferential; we make every effort to avoid the distorting effects of hindsight and to evaluate counsel's conduct from counsel's perspective at the time. [Citation.] A court must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's acts were within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. [Citation.]... Nevertheless, deference is not abdication; it cannot shield counsel's performance from meaningful scrutiny or automatically validate challenged acts and omissions. [Citation.]" (People v. Dennis (1998) 17 Cal.4th 468, 540-541 (Dennis))

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"If the record contains an explanation for the challenged aspect of counsel's representation, the reviewing court must determine 'whether the explanation demonstrates that counsel was reasonably competent and acting as a conscientious, diligent advocate.' [Citation.] On the other hand, if the record contains no explanation for the challenged behavior, an appellate court will reject the claim of ineffective assistance 'unless counsel was asked for an explanation and failed to provide one, or unless there simply could be no satisfactory explanation....' [Citation.]" (People v. Cudjo (1993) 6 Cal.4th 585, 623.)

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