Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Cases In Idaho

The post-conviction applicant's burden of proof on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel: In order to prevail on such a claim, an applicant must demonstrate both that his attorney's performance was deficient, and that he was thereby prejudiced in the defense of the criminal charge. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, 104 S. Ct. 2052 (1984); Aragon v. State, 114 Idaho 758, 760, 760 P.2d 1174, 1176 (1988); Hassett v. State, 127 Idaho 313, 316, 900 P.2d 221, 224 (Ct. App. 1995); Davis v. State, 116 Idaho 401, 406, 775 P.2d 1243, 1248 (Ct. App. 1989). To show deficient performance, a defendant must overcome the strong presumption that counsel's performance was adequate by demonstrating "that counsel's representation did not meet objective standards of competence." Roman v. State, 125 Idaho 644, 648-49, 873 P.2d 898, 902-03 (Ct. App. 1994). See also Vick v. State, 131 Idaho 121, 124, 952 P.2d 1257, 1260 (Ct. App. 1998). If a defendant succeeds in establishing that counsel's performance was deficient, he must also prove the prejudice element by showing that "there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694. When an applicant claims errors by counsel in the development of evidence for trial, the query is "whether there is a reasonable probability that, absent the errors, the factfinder would have had a reasonable doubt respecting guilt." Id. at 695. The benchmark for judging a claim of ineffectiveness is "whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied upon as having produced a just result." 466 U.S. at 686. When an applicant believes that discovery is necessary for acquisition of evidence to support a claim for post-conviction relief, the applicant must obtain authorization from the court to conduct discovery. Idaho Criminal Rule 57(b) specifies that "the provisions for discovery in the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure shall not apply to the post-conviction proceedings unless and only to the extent ordered by the trial court." Whether to authorize discovery is a matter directed to the discretion of the trial court. Aeschliman v. State, 132 Idaho 397, 402, 973 P.2d 749, 754 (Ct. App. 1999); Fairchild v. State, 128 Idaho 311, 319, 912 P.2d 679, 687 (Ct. App. 1996). The district court is not required to order discovery "unless necessary to protect an applicant's substantial rights." Griffith v. State, 121 Idaho 371, 375, 825 P.2d 94, 98 (Ct. App. 1992). However, "reasonable discovery may be permitted subject to supervision and firm control by the trial court to prevent abuses." Merrifield v. Arave, 128 Idaho 306, 310, 912 P.2d 674, 678 (Ct. App. 1996). In Aeschliman, we observed that the trial court should require the applicant to identify the specific subject matter of the requested discovery and explain why the discovery was necessary. 132 Idaho at 403, 973 P.2d at 755.