Saturday, November 23, 2013

Improper stipulation to details of prior conviction IAC

Stacey L. Schlimmer won in Jaghoori v. State, No. 108,892 (Kan. App. Nov. 1, 2013)(unpublished), affirming Judge Tatum's new trial order in a Johnson County aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and criminal discharge of a firearm prosecution.  After Mr. Jaghoori's convictions were affirmed, he filed a motion pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1507 alleging that his trial attorney was ineffective because she had agreed to admission of information about a prior conviction that would have been otherwise inadmissible. Judge Tatum agreed and order a new trial on all three counts.

The COA held that substantial competent evidence supported the district court's finding that the trial attorney improperly stipulated to admission about details of the prior conviction.  The also state argued that because the jury had been instructed to only use the prior conviction in relation to the criminal discharge count, the district court erred by granting a new trial on all counts.  The COA disagreed:
We are not persuaded by the State's argument. As we previously stated in the first issue, the stipulation clearly fell below an effective standard of counsel on a critical issue. But for this error, there is a reasonable probability that the outcome of Jaghoori's trial would have been more favorable to him. Jaghoori's prior crime clearly had a logical nexus to the crimes with which he was charged. Every count Jaghoori was charged with involved possession or use of a weapon as one of the elements. While the jury was instructed to consider the stipulation only to Count 4, Kansas courts are clear that an unnecessary admission of the name and nature of the prior conviction can only serve to prejudice a jury.
The COA concluded that Judge Tatum's order was not reversible:
It is seldom that a new trial is ordered after an evidentiary hearing on a K.S.A. 60–1507 motion alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. But, this is one of the rare exceptions. We would be doing an injustice, not only to Jaghoori but also to the trial judge, if we did not give deference to the district court who heard all the witnesses at both the trial and at the K.S.A. 60–1507 hearing and reached a logical conclusion utilizing the correct standards to determine ineffective assistance of counsel and resulting prejudice.
[Update: the state filed a PR on December 2, 2013.]

[Further update: the KSC denied the state's PR and the mandate issued on April 2, 2014.]

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