June 17, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

According a recent Ninth Circuit ruling, a Los Angeles man convicted of murder and attempted murder will be able to argue that his conviction should be overturned because his trial lawyer did not interview the survivor, who stated that the defendant did not shoot him.

In 2003, Deandre Maurice Howard was convicted of shooting two people outside a liquor store, killing one. Howard repeatedly asked his trial attorney to question the survivor of the shooting, but the attorney refused. The survivor was not called to the witness stand, and Howard was sentenced to life in prison. The survivor later wrote to Howard’s appellate attorney (Howard’s trial counsel did not handle his appeal) that Howard did not shoot the survivor or the dead man.

At trial, the prosecution relied exclusively on two eyewitness identifications. One of the witnesses initially identified Howard as the shooter, but at trial testified that he was not.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a fair trial and effective assistance of counsel. Ineffective assistance of counsel occurs when the defense attorney’s representation is deficient, meaning that the representation fell below the reasonable standard expected of attorneys. The law presumes that an attorney’s representation is not deficient, so this is a high standard for the defendant to overcome. Furthermore, the deficiency must have prejudiced the defendant, meaning that if representation had not been deficient, the outcome of the case would have been different. Ineffective assistance of counsel may be a form of legal malpractice.

At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys understand the importance of communicating with you, listening to you, and responding to your concerns. We have over 30 years experience in all aspects of criminal trial, and we will vigorously pursue every factual issue relevant to your defense. Call us today at (888) 280-6839 or visit us on our website at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.

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