California Landmark Cases on Inadequate Representation of Counsel

"To establish constitutionally inadequate representation, a defendant must show that: (1) counsel's representation was deficient, i.e., it fell below an objective standard of reasonableness under prevailing professional norms; (2) counsel's representation subjected the defendant to prejudice, i.e., there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's failings, the result would have been more favorable to the defendant." (People v. Mitcham (1992) 1 Cal.4th 1027, 1057-1058; Strickland v. Washington (1984) 466 U.S. 668, 687-696.) The California Supreme Court has stated: "An attorney may choose not to object for many reasons, and the failure to object rarely establishes ineffective assistance of counsel." (People v. Kelly (1992) 1 Cal.4th 495, 540, citing People v. Frierson (1991) 53 Cal.3d 730, 747.) Moreover, "the reasonable assumption that such objections would be overruled" constitutes a rational tactical basis for failing to object. (People v. Samayoa (1997) 15 Cal.4th 795, 848.) "'The burden of sustaining a charge of inadequate or ineffective representation is upon the defendant. The proof . . . must be a demonstrable reality and not a speculative matter.'" (People v. Karis (1988) 46 Cal.3d 612, 656.) There is a presumption trial counsel's acts or omissions during trial are the product of "'sound trial strategy.'" (Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at pp. 689, 694; accord People v. Dennis (1998) 17 Cal.4th 468, 541.) Thus, on direct appeal a conviction will be reversed for ineffective assistance of counsel only when the record demonstrates there could have been no rational tactical purpose for counsel's challenged act or omission. (People v. Lucas (1995) 12 Cal.4th 415, 442 "reviewing courts reverse convictions on direct appeal on the ground of incompetence of counsel only if the record on appeal demonstrates there could be no rational tactical purpose for counsel's omissions"; People v. Mitcham (1992) 1 Cal.4th 1027, 1058 "'if the record sheds no light on why counsel acted or failed to act in the manner challenged, "unless counsel was asked for an explanation and failed to provide one, or unless there simply could be no satisfactory explanation," , the contention that counsel provided ineffective assistance must be rejected'".)