Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Case Law in Florida

In order to prove an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a defendant must establish 2 elements: First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires 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. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984); see also Rutherford v. State, 727 So. 2d 216 (Fla. 1998); Rose v. State, 675 So. 2d 567 (Fla. 1996); Hildwin v. Dugger, 654 So. 2d 107 (Fla. 1995) In Maxwell v. Wainwright, 490 So. 2d 927 (Fla. 1986), the Court further explained the application of the Strickland standard: "A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, to be considered meritorious, must include two general components. First, the claimant must identify particular acts or omissions of the lawyer that are shown to be outside the broad range of reasonably competent performance under prevailing professional standards. Second, the clear, substantial deficiency shown must further be demonstrated to have so affected the fairness and reliability of the proceeding that confidence in the outcome is undermined." Id. at 932 (citing Strickland) ; see also Downs v. State, 453 So. 2d 1102 (Fla. 1984). Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel present a mixed question of law and fact subject to plenary review based on the Strickland test. See Stephens v. State, 748 So. 2d 1028, 1032 (Fla. 1999) (citing Rose, 675 So. 2d at 571). This requires an independent review of the trial court's legal conclusions, while giving deference to the trial court's factual findings. See id.