ALVIN T. FUKUNAGA, APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. 60CR-12-284.
HONORABLE BARRY SIMS, JUDGE.
K. WOOD, Associate Justice. WYNNE, J., concurs.
K. WOOD, Associate Justice
jury trial, Alvin Fukunaga was convicted of rape and
sentenced to ten years in prison. He contends that he
received ineffective assistance of counsel when his defense
attorney failed to object to testimony that allegedly
bolstered the victim's credibility. The circuit court
rejected this claim. We affirm the circuit court's
March 2012, Alvin Fukunaga was charged with rape. His
step-granddaughter had alleged that Fukunaga started sexually
abusing her when she was twelve years old. At trial, the
victim, then twenty-three, repeated these allegations and
also testified that Fukunaga had raped her multiple times
when she was sixteen. The victim also identified a mole on
Fukunaga's upper thigh, something she noticed in the
course of the abuse.
sheriff's deputy also testified. The deputy described,
briefly, his experience investigating " hundreds"
of sexual-abuse allegations. The deputy testified that it was
" very, very difficult for [the victims] to bring out
what has occurred to them because it was very traumatic to
them." The deputy stated that, in his experience, abuse
victims sometimes disclose the abuse long after the fact for
fear of breaking up a family unit. Finally, in response to
the prosecutor's inquiry whether " someone who
suffers sexual abuse has repressed or they just bury deep
down," the deputy responded as follows:
They do bury deep down. And, you know, during the interview
process, I may mention something that will cause them to
click and say, okay . . . you know what, that reminds me of
something else. And so it depends on the interview also on
how that is going. . . . My questions may cause them to
recall something else that, you know, they have been held way
deep down inside.
defense counsel never objected to this line of questioning.
However, on cross-examination, the deputy admitted that he
was neither a psychologist nor an expert on " the nature
jury found Fukunaga guilty. On direct appeal, our court of
appeals affirmed his conviction. See Fukunaga v.
State, 2014 Ark.App. 4. After the court of appeals
issued its opinion, Fukunaga filed a petition for
postconviction relief at the circuit court. Fukunaga argued
that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because
his defense counsel failed to object to the deputy's
testimony. A hearing was held on the petition. There, defense
counsel testified that he thought the deputy's testimony
was admissible and, regardless, that he could "
neutralize it on cross-examination." Counsel also noted
that " as a general rule in my trial practice I try not
to object very much at all . . . if I can get the same result
through something other than an objection."
circuit court issued a written order denying Fukunaga's
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Among other
things, the circuit court held that defense counsel's
failure to object was based on trial strategy and that his
performance was therefore not deficient. Because this finding
is not clearly erroneous, we affirm on this basis alone.
SeeState v. Lacy, 2016 Ark. 38, at 4, 480
S.W.3d 856, ___ (" We do not reverse ...