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Name: Riley v. Payne
Case #: 03-35054
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/23/2003
Subsequent History: None

Trial counsel’s failure to interview a key witness in a criminal case constituted prejudicially ineffective assistance of counsel. The defendant was convicted of assault, and his sole defense at trial was that the victim had threatened him with deadly force. The defendant identified a witness who had been present at the time of the alleged threats, but trial counsel never interviewed that witness. The witness later provided an affidavit corroborating defendant’s version of events. The court found a reasonable probability that, but for the attorney’s failure to interview the witness, the verdict would have been different.