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Young v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

September 16, 2014

YOUNG
v.
THE STATE

Effective assistance of counsel. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Ison, Senior Judge.

Leon Hicks, for appellant.

Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Frances C. Kuo, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

Andrews, P. J., and McFadden, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 736

Ray, Judge.

After a bench trial, Joshua Keith Young was convicted of hijacking a motor vehicle (OCGA § 16-5-44.1 (b)); armed robbery (OCGA § 16-8-41 (a)); two counts of aggravated assault (OCGA § 16-5-21 (b) (1), (2)); and three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime (OCGA § 16-11-106 (b)).[1] He appeals from the denial of his motion for new trial contending tat the trial court erred in failing to find that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons that follow, we disagree and affirm.

Young does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Construed in favor of the verdict, Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979), the evidence shows that on August 19, 2011, the victim, Christopher Reyas, agreed to give Young and some other men, whom he did not know, a ride to someone's house. When Reyas drove into the driveway, one of the men [329 Ga.App. 71] whom he did not know pulled him out of the car, and several people beat him up. Reyas managed to get back into the car, and he, Young, and another man left the scene. During the ride, however, Young pulled Reyas' hair and punched and kicked him. Young pointed a gun at Reyas and demanded that he get out of the car. Fearing for his life, Reyas complied, and Young drove away in Reyas' car.

At trial, before hearing testimony, the trial judge questioned Young about whether he

Page 737

wanted a bench trial or a jury trial. Young stated that he wanted a bench trial and that he understood the rights he was waiving. The trial judge explained the difference between a bench trial and a jury trial, emphasized that Young had the right to a jury trial if he wanted one, and discussed possible sentencing parameters. Young then discussed the waiver with his counsel and signed a statement waiving his right to a jury trial. The waiver was read for the record. As Young concedes in his appellate brief, " The Court questioned the Defendant at length during the trial of the case, with regard to the waiver of the jury trial. The Court provided adequate time and insisted the waiver be in writing... . The Court made sure that the waiver of Defendant's right to a jury trial was a knowing waiver."

Young contends that his counsel provided ineffective assistance.[2] To prevail on an ineffective assistance claim, Young

was required to show both that his counsel's performance was professionally deficient and that but for counsel's unprofessional conduct, there is a reasonable probability [that] the outcome of the proceedings would have been different... . The likelihood of a different result must be substantial, not just conceivable... . [W]e accept the trial court's factual findings and credibility ...

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