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Name: People v. Jones
Case #: A126005
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/30/2010

In the litigation of a suppression motion, effective representation includes a duty to locate potential witnesses to evaluate defendant’s version of the incident in question, and to obtain a qualified investigator, if an investigator can support defendant’s version. Appellant, who was charged with drug offenses, brought a suppression motion. The critical issue was whether the police officer’s statement was credible. The officer had testified that he made a traffic stop after observing appellant fail to stop at a stop sign. Appellant claimed that the officer would not have been able to see the stop sign from his location. Counsel for appellant produced no witnesses, instead relying on cross-examination of the officer. The first motion was denied. The court then refused to hear a second suppression motion that alleged grounds raised were not raised the first time because of ineffective assistance of counsel (Pen. Code, sec. 1538.5, subd. (h)). The appellate court held that it was error not to hear the motion and remanded with direction to hold a hearing as to IAC. At the hearing on remand, new counsel presented testimony of initial counsel, testimony of percipient witnesses supporting appellant’s version of the stop, testimony of an investigator, and testimony of an expert witness opining on IAC. Despite the evidence supporting a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel, the trial court found that initial counsel’s representation was not deficient. The appellate court disagreed, stating that initial counsel’s failure to adequately investigate the case constituted ineffective assistance of counsel, and that prejudice resulted because there is a reasonable probability that but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the outcome would have been different. The matter was again remanded with directions to hold a suppression hearing before a different judge.