Williams v. Commissioner of Correction
As explained in the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court case of Harrington v. Richter, "a court deciding an actual ineffectiveness claim must judge the reasonableness of counsel's challenged conduct on the facts of the particular case, viewed as of the time of counsel's conduct…," and the standard is one of reasonableness. While at a car wash with Marlon Monts, Donnell Williams was shot in the chest by men who exited a Cadillac. Donnell Williams returned fire and killed Norman Moore, one of the men who shot at him. Monts observed Rashad Williams driving the Cadillac. It was later located and found registered to Rashad Williams. Following a jury trial, Rashad Williams was convicted of conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, assault in the first degree and attempt to commit murder. The conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. Rashad Williams filed an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus claiming, inter alia, that his trial counsel, Claud Chong, provided ineffective assistance by failing to advance an identity defense. The habeas court denied the habeas petition. The petitioner appealed claiming that the court abused its discretion denying his petition for certification to appeal and improperly concluded that he had not established that Chong rendered ineffective assistance. The Appellate Court disagreed and dismissed his appeal. The habeas court properly concluded that the petitioner failed to sustain his burden of demonstrating that Chong performed deficiently. The habeas court found that Chong did not miss the identity issue but made a deliberate strategic decision not to contest it, primarily because the petitioner did not dispute his presence at the scene and suggested that Monts and the victim were familiar with him. Chong investigated the possibility of presenting an identity defense and learned from the petitioner and other sources that pursuing such a defense was fruitless. Chong decided that arguing that the state had insufficient evidence to prove the requisite intent for the charged crimes was a preferable strategy. This was Chong's strategic decision, and it was based, in part, on what the petitioner told him. Taking into consideration the facts that Chong had available when formulating his theory of defense, the habeas court properly concluded that Chong's strategy was a reasonable exercise of professional judgment.