Pereida Alba v Coursey

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Post-Conviction Relief
  • Date Filed: 01-15-2015
  • Case #: S060846
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kistler, J. for the Court; En Banc; Walters, J. concurring; Baldwin, J. dissenting.
  • Full Text Opinion

Defense counsel’s choice to pursue an “all or nothing” strategy may avoid the risk of being convicted of a lesser offense when defendant would otherwise go free.

This case was appealed after the Court of Appeals affirmed the post-conviction court’s holding that Coursey had inadequately represented Pereida-Alba during trial. Pereida-Alba was caught stealing from a store and was confronted by a security guard. He attempted, and failed, to flee. While being questioned in the office of the store, Pereida-Alba pulled a gun out and pointed it in the direction of the guard. The guard got nervous and told Pereida-Alba to leave. A few days later, officers arrested Pereida-Alba. At trial, the jury was given instruction regarding first-degree robbery, which consists of third-degree robbery plus use of a dangerous weapon, but not on third degree robbery as a standalone offense. Pereida-Alba was convicted of first-degree robbery. After pursuing an unsuccessful direct appeal, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel's performance had fallen below the minimum level of competency. The post-conviction court agreed and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court disagreed with the lower courts, holding that counsel could have come to the reasonable conclusion that requesting a lesser-included instruction might have exposed Pereida-Alba to greater risk of a conviction for the lesser offense, when he otherwise would have gone free. Reversed and remanded.

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