How might prejudice impact a habeas corpus petition in the state of Connecticut? You can find out on this page.
Prejudice results when “counsel’s errors [are] so serious as to deprive the [petitioner] of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable.” (internal quotation marks omitted) Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687; see Michael T., 307 Conn. at 101. Put differently, prejudice results when “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694; see also Bunkley, 222 Conn. at 445; Phillips, 220 Conn. at 132.
“[A] ‘reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different,’ does not require the petitioner to show that ‘counsel’s deficient conduct more likely than not altered the outcome of the case.’” Bunkley , 222 Conn. at 445 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 693). “Rather, it merely requires the petitioner to establish ‘a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.’” Bunkley, 222 Conn. at 445-46 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694); see also Gaines v. Commissioner, 306 Conn. 664, 688 (2012)(“‘[T]he question is whether there is a reasonable probability that, absent the [alleged] errors, the [fact finder] would have had a reasonable doubt respecting guilt.’” (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 695)).
In determining prejudice, the habeas court must consider the totality of the original trial evidence, whether counsel’s error has a “pervasive effect” on the evidence or just an “isolated, trivial effect,” and whether the verdict enjoys “weak” record support or “overwhelming” record support. See Gaines v. Commissioner, 306 Conn. at 688-89 (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 695-96); see also Bryant v. Commissioner, 290 Conn. 502, 519 n.11 (“We recognize that the strength of the state’s case bears most significantly to our analysis under the prejudice prong of Strickland.”), cert. denied sub nom., Murphy v. Bryant, 558 U.S. 938 (2009).
In that “[t]he fundamental purpose of the constitutional requirement of effective assistance of counsel is ‘to ensure that the trial is fair[,]’” Phillips, 220 Conn. at 134 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 685), “[t]he ‘ultimate focus of the inquiry must be on the fundamental fairness of the proceeding whose result is being challenged.’” Id. (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 696).
Burden of Proof
The petitioner bears the burden of proof on any allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel, see Evans v. Warden, 29 Conn. App. 274, 278 (1992), and the standard of proof is a fair preponderance of the evidence. Gaines, 306 Conn. at 666.
If you think that your counsel deprived you of a fair trial, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney. An attorney can help to make sure that your rights remain protected.