Sparks v. Premo

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Post-Conviction Relief
  • Date Filed: 12-06-2017
  • Case #: A151267
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J., for the Court; Lagesen, J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to show entitlement to post-conviction relief, a Defendant must show that counsel failed to “exercise reasonable professional skill and judgment” and that he suffered prejudice as a result. Johnson v. Premo, 361 Or 688, 699, 399 P3d 431 (2017).

Defendant appealed a judgment from the post-conviction court that denied his claim for ineffective assistance of counsel during the guilt-phase the hearing. Defendant argued that his trial counsel failed to effectively present mitigating evidence as to his guilt. Defendant claimed that trial counsel failed to adequately represent him by: failing to adequately cross-examine the State’s forensic pathologist; and failing to call the forensic scientist as a witness to undermine certain physical evidence. In order to show entitlement to post-conviction relief, a Defendant must show that counsel failed to “exercise reasonable professional skill and judgment” and that he suffered prejudice as a result. Johnson v. Premo, 361 Or 688, 699, 399 P3d 431 (2017). The Court of Appeals determined trial counsel’s decision not challenge the forensic pathologist’s expertise and credentials did not fall below the request standard of providing adequate counsel because the pathologist’s conclusions were not especially controversial and there was no evidence the pathologist was incompetent. Further, the Court held that trial counsel’s failure to call another forensic pathologist to testify was proper because the evidence she was able to testify to was presented in other ways at the trial. Affirmed on appeal and cross-appeal.

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