Ineffective Assistance of Counsel In Texas

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to the reasonably effective assistance of counsel in state criminal prosecutions. McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771 n. 14, 25 L. Ed. 2d 763, 90 S. Ct. 1441 (1970). In general, to obtain a reversal of a conviction on the ground of ineffective assistance, an appellant must demonstrate that: (1) defense counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and (2) there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional error(s), the result of the proceeding would have been different. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, 104 S. Ct. 2052 (1984). In assessing a claim of ineffective assistance, an appellate court "must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct fell within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the appellant must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the challenged action might be considered sound trial strategy." Id. at 689. Also, in the absence of evidence of counsel's reasons for the challenged conduct, an appellate court "commonly will assume a strategic motivation if any can possibly be imagined," 3 W. LaFave, et al., Criminal Procedure 11.10(c) (2d. ed 1999), and will not conclude the challenged conduct constituted deficient performance unless the conduct was so outrageous that no competent attorney would have engaged in it. See Thompson v. State, 9 S.W.3d 808, 814 (Tex.Crim.App. 1999). Finally, an appellant's failure to satisfy one prong of the Strickland test negates a court's need to consider the other prong. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 697.