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Chunestudy v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

September 4, 2014

JOSEPH CHUNESTUDY, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

Page 924

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 925

APPEAL FROM THE GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 28CR-09-608. HONORABLE RANDY F. PHILHOURS, JUDGE.

Joseph Chunestudy, Pro se appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

OPINION

PRO SE

Page 926

PER CURIAM

In 2011, appellant Joseph Chunestudy was found guilty by a jury of rape and sentenced to life imprisonment. We affirmed. Chunestudy v. State, 2012 Ark. 222, 408 S.W.3d 55.

Subsequently, appellant timely filed in the trial court a verified, pro se petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1 (2011). The trial court denied the petition after holding a hearing. Appellant brings this appeal.

In his petition, appellant alleged that he was not afforded effective assistance of counsel at trial. This court has held that it will reverse the trial court's decision granting or denying postconviction relief only when that decision is clearly erroneous. Conley v. State, 2014 Ark. 172, 433 S.W.3d 234. A finding is clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support it, the appellate court, after reviewing the entire evidence, is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Caery v. State, 2014 Ark. 247');"> 2014 Ark. 247 (per curiam); Sartin v. State, 2012 Ark. 155, 400 S.W.3d 694.

When considering an appeal from a trial court's denial of a Rule 37.1 petition based on ineffective assistance of counsel, the sole question presented is whether, based on a totality of the evidence under the standard set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), the trial court clearly erred in holding that counsel's performance was not ineffective. Taylor v. State, 2013 Ark. 146, 427 S.W.3d 29.

The benchmark for judging a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel must be " whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 686. Pursuant to Strickland, we assess the effectiveness of counsel under a two-prong standard. First, a petitioner raising a claim of ineffective assistance must show that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the " counsel" guaranteed the petitioner by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Caery, 2014 Ark. 247');"> 2014 Ark. 247; Williams v. State, 369 Ark. 104, 251 S.W.3d 290 (2007). There is a strong presumption that trial counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of professional assistance, and an appellant has the burden of overcoming this presumption by identifying specific


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