Lotches v. Premo

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Post-Conviction Relief
  • Date Filed: 07-10-2013
  • Case #: A145569
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Oregon Constitution does not grant a right to a perfect defense in criminal cases. It requires only that counsel act to diligently and conscientiously advance the defense.

Lotches appealed the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he was denied adequate counsel under Article I, sec. 11, of the Oregon Constitution. After reviewing the trial evidence, the post-conviction court ruled that Lotches had failed to establish that his counsel was inadequate. Furthermore, the post-conviction court found that even if trial counsel had been inadequate, there was no showing of prejudice against Lotches. To prevail, Lotches needed to demonstrate by a preponderance of evidence that trial counsel “failed to exercise reasonable professional skill and judgment and that Lotches suffered prejudice at trial.” Under that standard, the post-conviction court must give deference to trial counsel’s tactical decisions unless those decisions lack professional judgment. There was no evidence that trial counsel’s decisions lacked professional judgment. The Oregon Constitution does not grant a right to perfect defense in criminal cases and Lotches failed to present evidence in support of his claim of inadequate counsel. The post-conviction court was correct in finding that Lotches received adequate representation under the Oregon Constitution. Affirmed.

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