Barry v. State

In Barry v. State, 675 P.2d 1292 (Alaska App. 1984) the Court explained that we would almost never be able to resolve ineffectiveness claims raised for the first time on direct appeal. The Court stated that, "practically speaking, an appellate court is almost never able to find ineffective assistance of counsel in the absence of an explanation in the record for counsel's actions." To properly set out counsel's actions and the reasons for those actions, "an evidentiary hearing is almost always a prerequisite to an effective assertion of ineffective assistance of counsel." Consequently, the Court held that in all but those rare cases where counsel's error is "plain," claims of ineffective assistance should be brought in a separate post-conviction action. (Id. at 1295-96.) The Court held that claims of ineffective assistance of counsel must ordinarily be litigated in post-conviction relief proceedings rather than raised as claims of plain error on direct appeal. In Barry, the Court observed that the record of the trial proceedings will seldom conclusively establish incompetent representation, because that record will rarely provide an explanation for the attorney's conduct that is challenged as deficient. The Court observed that in appeals claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, the trial record will seldom establish incompetent representation because it will rarely provide the trial attorney's explanation for the conduct that is challenged as incompetent. The Court concluded that "henceforth we will not entertain claims of ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal unless the defendant has first moved for a new trial or sought post-conviction relief, supporting the claim with affidavits alleging facts which would establish a basis for relief."