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Name: In re Brown
Case #: B245677
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 08/14/2013

Habeas petition granted where petitioner improperly admitted a prior juvenile adjudication that did not qualify as a prior strike. After Brown was convicted by a jury of felony vandalism, he discussed a prior strike allegation with his attorney and agreed to admit it. Trial counsel advised Brown to admit the allegation based solely on uncorroborated statements in documents that would have been inadmissible to prove the prior conviction, as well as Brown’s own description of the offense. The trial court doubled Brown’s sentence based on the prior strike. Brown’s appellate counsel obtained the record of the juvenile proceedings and discovered that the prior adjudication did not qualify as a strike, and filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus based on trial counsel’s ineffective assistance in failing to investigate the validity of the prior strike allegation. The appellate court granted relief, finding that trial counsel had failed to conduct a proper investigation of Brown’s prior conviction. Had trial counsel requested a copy of the record, as appellate counsel did, he would have determined that his client did not suffer a prior strike conviction. There could have been no valid tactical reason for trial counsel to permit his client to admit a strike he did not suffer.