Clark v. Arnold

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 10-08-2014
  • Case #: 12-15601
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Court Judge Bybee for the Court; Circuit Court Judge Wallace; District Court Judge Mahan
  • Full Text Opinion

According the U.S. Supreme Court case Strickland v. Washington, in order to prevail under a claim of ineffective assistance, one must demonstrate that (1) counsel was ineffective by an objective reasonableness standard and (2) the defendant was prejudice by such ineffective assistance in that trial would have had a substantially different outcome.

Eric Michael Clark appeals from a district court’s dismissal of his writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 because his constitutional rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated due to ineffective assistance at trial and on appeal. Clark was convicted of first-degree murder after he shot and killed a peace officer in the line of duty. Clark argued, under his writ of habeas corpus, that trial counsel was ineffective due to a failure to preserve evidence that could negate the mens rea of the crime and failure to request a reevaluation of Clark’s competency during trial. Clark also argued his appellate counsel was inadequate in that she failed to bring trial counsel’s ineffective assistance up on appeal. According to Strickland v. Washington, two elements must be met in order to sufficiently plead ineffective assistance. First, counsel’s assistance must be ineffective. The panel held that the district court “. . . did not unreasonably apply Strickland when it held that Clark’s trial counsel did not fall below the objective standard of reasonableness.” Second, counsel’s ineffective assistance must prejudice the defendant. In order to prove prejudice, one must demonstrate that but for trial counsel’s unprofessional conduct, the outcome at trial would have been different and substantial, so as to undermine confidence in the original outcome of the trial. Because Clark failed to demonstrate prejudice in this manner, he failed under the second prong of Strickland. As to Clark’s appellate counsel, the district court adopted a magistrate judge’s ruling that Clark failed to adequately present a federal claim for the counsel’s ineffective assistance. Because Clark did not contest this ruling by the district court in his opening brief, the panel considered the argument “abandoned.” AFFIRMED.

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