Orellana v. Commissioner of Correction
The habeas petitioner did not demonstrate that his trial counsel's failure to request a limiting instruction regarding prior consistent statements of drug buys from him, logically undermined confidence in the integrity of the result of the trial when the challenged evidence was cumulative of other testimony. Eddie Orellana was convicted of several related crimes including conspiracy to sell narcotics. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. He filed an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel because counsel failed to request an instruction limiting the jury's consideration of prior consistent statements made by confidential informant, Jessica Jusino, and to preserve that claim for review on appeal. He also claimed that his appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance and claimed that his due process rights were violated in that the prosecutor did not disclose to trial counsel that Jusino received a lenient sentence in exchange for her testimony in the petitioner's case. Following trial, the habeas court denied the petition but granted certification to appeal. On appeal, Orellana claimed first, that the trial court erred by rejecting his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The habeas court determined that the petitioner's claim "fail[e]d primarily for lack of a showing of prejudice." The Appellate Court agreed. The petitioner did not demonstrate that his trial counsel's failure to request a limiting instruction regarding Jusino's prior consistent statements logically undermined confidence in the integrity of the result of the trial. The evidence was cumulative of other testimony and involvement statements Jusino made to the police the thrust of which was already in evidence through other testimony. Additionally, the testimony was subject to the more general limiting instruction on prior misconduct. Likewise, the petitioner did not show that trial counsel's failure to preserve the issue for appeal caused prejudice. The petitioner did not demonstrate that even if the issue was preserved for appeal there would have been a reasonable probability of success. Because the claim lacked merit, the petitioner could not meet his burden of showing that appellate counsel's conduct in failing to raise the claim fell below the level of reasonably competent representation. The due process claim, found based on speculation, was properly resolved.