The Right to Effective Assistance of Counsel
Under Court of Common Pleas Criminal Rule 33, this Court may grant a motion for a new trial if required in the interest of justice. CCP Crim. R. 33. In this case, the Defendant may be entitled to a new trial if he was deprived of his right to a fair trial.
A Defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to counsel in order to protect the fundamental right to a fair trial. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 684 (1984).
The right to counsel means the right to effective assistance of counsel, and Counsel may deprive a defendant of the right of effective assistance by failing to render adequate legal assistance. Id. at 685. a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel has two components:
First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires a showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the 'counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment.
Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. This requires showing that counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable. Unless a defendant makes both showings, it cannot be said that the conviction...resulted from a breakdown in the adversary process that renders the result unreliable.Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.
A deferential view must be taken of the attorney's actions, since in hindsight it may be easy to deem an act or omission of counsel as being unreasonable. Id. at 689.
The Court must make an effort to eliminate the effects of hindsight and recognize a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the broad range of reasonable professional assistance, and the defendant must overcome the presumption that counsel's conduct might be considered sound trial strategy. Id.
As to the second prong, an error by counsel does not warrant setting aside the judgment of a criminal proceeding if the error had no effect on the judgment. Id at 691.
The defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different, with a "reasonable probability" defined as a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.
In Delaware, the standard is the same. to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, defendant must show 1) that counsel's errors were so grievous that his performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and 2) actual prejudice, that is, that there is a reasonable degree of probability that but for counsel's errors the outcome of the proceedings would have been different. State v. Russo, Del. Super., 700 A.2d 161, 173 (1996), (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. 668).
In Russo, counsel did not make a motion to suppress based on his assessment it would not prevail. the Court examined the circumstances and concluded the attorney had correctly analyzed the feasibility of a suppression motion.
Furthermore, the Court found that the defense counsel had presented witnesses and "put the prosecution to its proof". 700 A.2d at 178.