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Name: In re Edward S.
Case #: A118547
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/27/2009

Reversal was required where public defender’s representation of the minor at a jurisdictional hearing was deficient. Following a jurisdiction hearing on child molestation charges in Mendocino County, the minor appellant’s case was transferred to Humboldt County, where his new appointed counsel moved for a new jurisdictional hearing on the ground that the minor had been denied effective assistance of counsel. He argued that his former attorney knew the case needed more investigation but believed he was not entitled to funding for a psychological exam, an investigator, and a polygraph. He also argued that counsel was ineffective for failing to fully voir dire the ten-year-old victim on whether she was competent to testify and in failing to require her to take the oath required by Evidence Code section 710. Prior defense counsel also failed to request a continuance following a revelation by the victim’s mother that there were three generations of child molestation in her family. The entire contested hearing took less than two hours. Former defense counsel filed lengthy declarations in support of the motion for a new hearing. The appellate court found that counsel’s performance was deficient in that he failed to investigate exculpatory evidence, sought an inadequate continuance based on a mistake of law, and failed to move for substitution of counsel knowing he was unable to devote the time and resources necessary to properly defend the minor. The representation provided appellant by the Mendocino County Public Defender office was deficient. These deficiencies were prejudicial, and reversal was required.