656 A.2d 971 (R.I. 1995), 94-481, Hughes v. State

Docket Nº:94-481-CA.
Citation:656 A.2d 971
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:James J. HUGHES III v. STATE.
Attorney:Dominic St. Angelo, Barbara Hurst, Asst. Public Defender, Providence, for plaintiff. Jeffrey Pine, Atty. Gen., Jodi M. Gladstone, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Aaron Weisman, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendant.
Judge Panel:MURRAY, J., did not participate.
Case Date:April 10, 1995
Court:Supreme Court of Rhode Island
 
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656 A.2d 971 (R.I. 1995)

James J. HUGHES III

v.

STATE.

No. 94-481-CA.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

April 10, 1995.

Dominic St. Angelo, Barbara Hurst, Asst. Public Defender, Providence, for plaintiff.

Jeffrey Pine, Atty. Gen., Jodi M. Gladstone, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Aaron Weisman, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendant.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

This case came before the Supreme Court on March 14, 1995, pursuant to an order directing both parties to appear and show cause why this appeal should not be summarily decided. James J. Hughes III (applicant or Hughes) has appealed the denial of his application for postconviction relief following his conviction of felony murder for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

After hearing the arguments of counsel and reviewing the memoranda submitted by the parties, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown, and the appeal will be decided at this time.

The applicant contends that his appellate counsel's assistance was ineffective because

Page 972

she failed to raise certain issues on appeal. The standard for reviewing a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). Under Strickland, a defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient and that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. Brown v. Moran, 534 A.2d 180, 182 (R.I.1987) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064, 80 L.Ed.2d at 693). To meet this burden, a defendant must overcome a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance and sound trial strategy. Id. (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689, 104 S.Ct. at 2065, 80 L.Ed.2d at 694-95). Last, a defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, the result of the proceedings would have been different. Id. (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2068, 80 L.Ed.2d at 698).

The applicant first argued that his appellate counsel, a public defender, failed to brief and argue on appeal the trial justice's admission of certain "gruesome" photographs of the victim. At the postconviction hearing, counsel gave undisputed testimony that Hughes agreed with her strategy of not including on appeal the weak issue of the admissibility of the photographs. Even if the issue...

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