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Brewer v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

August 6, 2014

BREWER
v.
THE STATE

Cert. applied for.

Effective assistance of counsel. Richmond Superior Court. Before Judge Padgett.

James C. Bonner, Jr., Michael W. Tarleton, for appellant.

Ashley Wright, District Attorney, Madonna M. Little, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

ELLINGTON, Presiding Judge. Phipps, C. J., and McMillian, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 623

Ellington, Presiding Judge.

A Richmond County jury found Michael Brewer guilty on two counts of committing an act of child exploitation through the use of a computer or electronic device, OCGA § 16-12-100.2 (d) (1). Brewer appeals from the denial of his motion for new trial. He contends that the trial court erred in rejecting his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Finding no error, we affirm.

Brewer contends that his court-appointed defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by filing a general demurrer to the State's original indictment. He argues that his counsel's general demurrer " alert[ed] the prosecution to [the indictment's] problems of proof before jeopardy attached, and induc[ed] it to retreat to charges better tailored to its proof, easier to establish, and carrying greater sentences." According to Brewer, the fact that counsel filed the demurrer at his insistence is legally insignificant.

In order to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a criminal defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient and that the deficient performance so prejudiced the client that there is a reasonable likelihood that, but for counsel's errors, the outcome of the trial would have been different. The criminal defendant must overcome the strong presumption that trial counsel's conduct falls within the broad range of reasonable professional conduct.

( Citations and punctuation omitted.) Robinson v. State, 277 Ga. 75, 75-76 (586 S.E.2d 313) (2003). See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674) (1984).

" As a general rule, reasonable trial tactics and strategies do not amount to ineffective assistance of counsel." Woods v. State, 304 Ga.App. 403, 409 (4) (696 S.E.2d 411) (2010). " The decisions on which witnesses to call and all other strategies and tactical decisions are the exclusive province of the lawyer after consultation with his [or her] client." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Moreland v. State, 263 Ga.App. 585, 588 (4) (588 S.E.2d 785) (2003). " Whether an attorney's trial tactics [were] reasonable is a question of law, not fact." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Id. " When assessing the reasonableness of counsel's actions, a court must evaluate counsel's performance from his or her perspective at the time of trial." Woods v. State, 304 Ga.App. at 409 (4). Finally, this Court reviews a trial court's ruling on an ineffective assistance claim on appeal by " accept[ing] the trial court's [328 Ga.App. 802] factual findings and credibility

Page 624

determinations unless clearly erroneous, but we independently apply the legal principles to the facts." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Ro ...


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