How might deficient performance impact a habeas corpus petition in Connecticut? Find out here.
Strickland’s “performance prong” exists. So, counsel’s performance constitutes a deficient performance when counsel’s “representation was not reasonably competent or within the range of competence displayed by lawyers with ordinary training and skill in the criminal law.” (internal quotation marks omitted; citation omitted) Sastrom v. Mullaney , 286 Conn. 655, 662 (2008); see Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-91; see also Gonzalez v. Commissioner, 308 Conn. at 470; Michael T. v. Commissioner, 307 Conn. at 91; State v. Clark, 170 Conn. 273, 283, cert. denied, 425 U.S. 962 (1976); Phillips v. Warden , 220 Conn. at 132 (performance deficient in the sense that counsel “‘made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the “counsel” guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment’” (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687)).
In addition, the petitioner “must show that counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688; see Gonzalez, 308 Conn. at 484.
“The proper measure of attorney performance [is] simply reasonableness under prevailing professional norms.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. Hence, “in any case presenting an ineffectiveness claim, the performance inquiry must be whether counsel’s assistance was reasonable considering all the circumstances. Also, prevailing norms of practice as reflected in American Bar Association standards and the like…are guides to determining what is reasonable, but they are only guides. So, no particular set of detailed rules for counsel’s conduct can satisfactorily take account of the variety of circumstances faced by defense counsel or the range of legitimate decisions regarding how best to represent a criminal defendant.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688-89; see Phillips, 220 Conn. at 134; see also Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S. , , 132 S.Ct. 1399, 1408 (2012)(“codified standards of professional practice … can be important guides”).
Scrutiny of Counsel’s Performance
Then, the habeas court’s “scrutiny of counsel’s performance [is] highly deferential…[The] court [will] judge the reasonableness of counsel’s challenged conduct on the facts of the particular case, viewed as of the time of counsel’s conduct. So, a convicted defendant making a claim of ineffective assistance [will have to] identify the acts or omissions that are alleged not to have been the result of reasonable professional judgment. In addition, the court [will] then determine whether, in light of all the circumstances, the identified acts or omissions were outside the range of professionally competent assistance.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689-90; see Gonzalez, 308 Conn. at 485.
In making this determination, “counsel is strongly presumed to have rendered adequate assistance and made all significant decisions in the exercise of reasonable professional judgment.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690; see Sanders v. Commissioner, 83 Conn. App. 543, 551, cert. denied, 271 Conn. 914 (2004); see also Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689 (“a court must indulge a strong presumption that counsel’s conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the challenged action ‘might be considered sound trial strategy’”).
Finally, counsel’s performance gets measured without regard to whether counsel was court-appointed or privately retained. So, “there is no sliding scale embedded in the constitution, affording financially capable defendants any more or less constitutional protection than indigent defendants who are served by appointed counsel.” Skakel v. Warden, Tolland J.D., at Rockville, Docket No. CV-10 -4003762 (Bishop, J.T.R), Mem. of Dec., Oct. 23, 2013, p. 13; see also Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 344-45 (1980)(“no basis for drawing a distinction between retained and appointed counsel”); Myers v. Manson, 192 Conn. 383 (1984); cf. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 685 (Also, “an accused is entitled to be assisted by an attorney, whether retained or appointed, who plays the role necessary to ensure that the trial is fair.”).