Cox v. Howton

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 02-04-2015
  • Case #: A151196
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: De Muniz, S.J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In order for a post-conviction court to grant relief due to inadequate counsel, it must be shown that the attorney’s error was the but-for cause of the client’s decision.

Defendant appealed a judgment granting petitioner post-conviction relief. Petitioner plead guilty to charges of assault, strangulation, and assaulting a police officer. She then sought post-conviction relief, claiming she was not adequately advised by her attorney as to the ramifications of pleading guilty to the charges. The post-conviction court granted relief based on the counsel’s “substantial tendency” to affect petitioner’s decision to accept the plea offers. Defendant objected, arguing that the post-conviction court applied the wrong legal standard. On appeal and in relying on precedent set by the Oregon Supreme Court, the Court held that the correct standard was a but-for inquiry. If, but for the erroneous counsel, petitioner would have accepted or rejected the plea offer, then post-conviction relief is proper. Reversed and Remanded.

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