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Starr v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

May 24, 2017

DARRIN LEE STARR, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff). DARRIN LEE STARR, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

         Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Steven K. Sharpe, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane Lozano, State Public Defender, and Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel. Argument by Ms. Olson.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Joshua C. Eames, Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D. Jackson, Faculty Director, Prosecution Assistance Program; K. T. Farrelly, Student Director; and Morgan K. McIlrath, Student Intern. Argument by Mr. McIlrath.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

          HILL, Justice.

         [¶1] A jury convicted Darrin Lee Starr of aggravated assault and battery after he hit Sam Trujillo with his vehicle. On appeal, Mr. Starr argues that his conviction should be reversed due to the ineffective assistance of counsel he received at trial. We affirm.

         ISSUE

         [¶2] Mr. Starr presents one issue for our review:

Trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request either an accident or defense of others jury instruction.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         [¶3] "Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel involve mixed questions of law and fact and are reviewed de novo." Mraz v. State, 2016 WY 85, ¶ 42, 378 P.3d 280, 290-291 (Wyo. 2016) (other citations omitted).

         [¶4] Based on our adoption of the two-prong test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2064, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), the defendant must prove both that counsel's performance was deficient, and that the defendant was prejudiced by the deficient performance. Mraz, ¶ 43, 378 P.3d at 291, quoting Galbreath v. State, 2015 WY 49, ¶ 4, 346 P.3d 16, 18 (Wyo. 2015). As we have cautioned, the defendant bears a heavy burden:

When reviewing a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the paramount determination is whether, in light of all the circumstances, trial counsel's acts or omissions were outside the wide range of professionally competent assistance. We indulge a strong presumption that counsel rendered adequate assistance and made all significant decisions in the exercise of reasonable professional judgment. Under the two-prong standard articulated in Strickland, to warrant reversal on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, an appellant must demonstrate that his counsel failed to render such assistance as would have been offered by a reasonably competent attorney and that counsel's deficiency prejudiced the defense of the case. "The benchmark for judging any claim of ineffectiveness must be whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result."

Luftig v. State, 2010 WY 43, ¶ 17, 228 P.3d 857, 864 (Wyo. 2010) (quoting Dettloff v. State, 2007 WY 29, ¶ 18, 152 P.3d 376, 382 (Wyo. 2007) ...


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