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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The appellant was charged in this case with aggravated assault. In exchange for appellant’s guilty plea to this charge, the state initially offered to recommend a 10-year sentence to be served concurrently with a 15-year sentence that appellant was serving on one of the convictions then pending on appeal. Appellant went to trial on the aggravated assault charge in May 2003. Rejecting appellant’s self-defense claim, a jury convicted appellant of this offense and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. The evidence at trial shows that appellant stabbed the victim with a knife in the parking lot of a motel after the victim pushed or hit appellant in the face. Appellant initially told the police shortly after the incident that the victim and another person (Berry) came into his motel room in a “loud” manner and attacked him. Appellant did not mention in this statement that he stabbed the victim or that he was ever in the parking lot of the motel. Appellant contradicted his initial statement to the police when he testified at trial that he stabbed the victim in self-defense in the parking lot of the motel. Appellant also testified at trial that he called 911 immediately after the incident. Police department 911 records, however, did not support this. Primarily through his cross-examination of the state’s witnesses, appellant’s trial lawyer elicited testimony that could have explained most, if not all, the inconsistencies between appellant’s initial statement to the police and his trial testimony. Appellant’s trial lawyer also elicited testimony from which the jury could have found that the victim was a violent, weapon-carrying, drug-user who had assaulted appellant in the past. And, during his re-cross-examination of the victim, appellant’s trial lawyer was able to reveal that the victim had a pocket knife in his shirt pocket while he was testifying at appellant’s trial. On later cross-examination of the victim, appellant’s trial lawyer elicited more testimony from the victim in which the victim claimed that he had never “carried any kind of knife all [his] life.” At the beginning of his direct examination of appellant, appellant’s trial lawyer questioned appellant about his current incarceration on the two convictions pending on appeal. This questioning opened the door to some damaging cross-examination by the prosecution, which also referred to appellant’s two convictions during its closing jury arguments. Appellant’s trial lawyer argued to the jury that appellant was afraid of the victim and that he acted in self-defense. Appellant’s trial lawyer mentioned appellant’s current incarceration on the two convictions during the end of his closing jury arguments. After he was convicted and sentenced, appellant filed a pro se motion for new trial. The trial court ultimately denied appellant’s motion for new trial and found that the “decision to inform the jury of the extraneous offense was a matter of trial strategy.” On direct appeal, the Court of Appeals decided that the actions of appellant’s trial lawyer in introducing the evidence of appellant’s incarceration on the two convictions was a sound trial strategy “of convincing the jury that [appellant] was telling the truth, and thereby convince the jury to believe [appellant's] self-defense claim.” HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Even though the performance of appellant’s trial lawyer may not have been perfect, the assistance that he did provide arguably was reasonably effective under the particular circumstances of this case. Nevertheless, in cases like this where appellant’s self-defense claim rested almost entirely on his credibility, the weight of authority supports a holding that appellant’s trial lawyer performed deficiently under the first prong of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), by allowing the jury to hear prejudicial and clearly inadmissible evidence because this evidence could serve no strategic value including demonstrating that appellant is not a liar. The court decides that appellant’s trial lawyer performed deficiently under the first prong of Strickland for eliciting testimony from appellant at the guilt phase of his trial that appellant was already incarcerated on two convictions that were pending on appeal. It is, therefore, necessary to consider whether this deficient performance was prejudicial under the second prong of Strickland. OPINION:Hervey, J., delivered the court’s opinion.

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