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Green v. State - 302 Ga. 816, 809 S.E.2d 738 (2018)

Rule:

Although both the performance and prejudice components of an ineffectiveness inquiry involve mixed questions of law and fact, a trial court's factual findings made in the course of deciding an ineffective assistance of counsel claim will be affirmed by the reviewing court unless clearly erroneous.

Facts:

Defendant Neddrick Green was charged along with Jeremy Reynolds, Jr. and Allen Williams for the malice murder of Barry Bullard. The victim, Green, and Williams were friends who grew up together, and Reynolds "had just started hanging with" the three of them. At some point, the victim and Williams had had an argument or "a beef" because Williams believed the victim had stolen a gun from him. Green and Williams exchanged words with the victim and his friend while Reynolds was leaning against the hood of a car. Williams and Green then began punching the victim in the face while attempting to take his gun. The victim responded by telling the men to "chill." As Williams and Green began to walk off, Reynolds walked up to the victim and shot him in the face. The victim fell but got up and exchanged gunfire with the three men, but died shortly thereafter. Green and Reynolds were tried together and found guilty. Green appealed the conviction, asserting that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his counsel failed to seek severance of his trial from that of his co-defendant Reynolds.

Issue:

Did Green receive ineffective assistance of counsel?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The state supreme court held that Green could not show that the joint trial caused him harm. Thus, defense counsel not ineffective for failing to move for severance. In fact, the trial counsel's decision not to seek severance was presumed strategic. Even if counsel had filed a motion to sever, the trial court would not have abused its discretion in denying the motion as Green would not have been able to show prejudice from the joint trial. For these reasons, the court found Green's ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed.

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