Can Strategic Decisions Constitute Ineffective Assistance of Counsel ?

In Occhicone v. State, 768 So. 2d 1037 (Fla. 2000), the Court stated: "Counsel cannot be deemed ineffective merely because current counsel disagrees with trial counsel's strategic decisions. Moreover, strategic decisions do not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel if alternative courses have been considered and rejected and counsel's decision was reasonable under the norms of professional conduct." Id. at 1048. Regarding the review of a postconviction court's Strickland analysis, this Court stated: The performance and prejudice prongs are mixed questions of law and fact subject to a de novo review standard but . . . the trial court's factual findings are to be given deference. See Stephens v. State, 748 So. 2d 1028, 1034 (Fla. 1999). So long as its decisions are supported by competent, substantial evidence, this Court will not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court on questions of fact and, likewise, on the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be given to the evidence by the trial court. Id. The court recognized and honored the trial court's superior vantage point in assessing the credibility of witnesses and in making findings of fact. Porter v. State, 788 So. 2d 917, 923 (Fla. 2001).