APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTH
DIVISION [NO. 60CR-12-749] HONORABLE BARRY A. SIMS, JUDGE
Lee Thompson, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
A. WOMACK, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Thompson sought postconviction relief based on allegations of
ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel under
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). The
circuit court was not persuaded by his claims and denied the
petition. Thompson appeals that decision. We affirm.
and Keye Ratley were leaving a Little Rock nightclub when
they were attacked by Thompson and an accomplice. Tyler was
walking behind his brother when Thompson attempted to rob
him. The assailants fled when Keye ran to his brother's
aid. As Keye chased after them, one of the men fatally shot
him in the stomach. A witness observed the men drive away in
a red P.T. Cruiser that had been reported as stolen the day
before. After police recovered the stolen vehicle, they
discovered Thompson's DNA inside. Thompson was later
arrested after Tyler identified him in a photographic lineup.
convicted Thompson of first-degree felony murder, aggravated
robbery, felony theft, and misdemeanor theft. He was
sentenced to life imprisonment plus an aggregate ninety
years. We were not persuaded by Thompson's arguments on
direct appeal. Thompson v. State, 2015 Ark. 271, 548
S.W.3d 129. Our independent review of the record, however,
revealed a reversible error. Id.; see Ark.
Sup. Ct. R. 4-3(i) (2016). Thompson had been charged with
capital felony murder predicated on aggravated robbery. But
he was convicted of first-degree felony murder predicated on
robbery. We accordingly reversed the aggravated robbery
conviction and remanded with instructions for resentencing.
Id. The remaining convictions and sentences were
resentencing, Thompson timely petitioned for Rule 37
postconviction relief. His claims were premised on
allegations of constitutionally deficient counsel both at
trial and on direct appeal. The circuit court determined that
Thompson failed to make the requisite showings under
Strickland. His petition was denied, and this appeal
Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees
criminal defendants the right to the effective assistance of
counsel. See Lee v. State, 2009 Ark. 255, at 3, 308
S.W.3d 596, 600. The benchmark for judging any claim of
ineffectiveness is "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." Id. (quoting Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686 (1984)). The standard
governing Thompson's ineffective assistance of counsel
claims is the familiar two-prong test established in
Strickland. See Liggins v. State, 2016 Ark.
432, at 2-3, 505 S.W.3d 191, 193-94. To prevail under
Strickland, Thompson must show both that his
attorney's performance was constitutionally deficient and
that he was prejudiced as a result. Id.
establish deficient performance, Thompson must show that
counsel's representation fell below an objective standard
of reasonableness. Id. But judicial scrutiny of
counsel's performance is highly deferential: The
Strickland analysis begins with "a strong
presumption that counsel's conduct fell within the wide
range of reasonable professional assistance."
Id. This presumption may be overcome only by showing
that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not
functioning as the "counsel" guaranteed by the
Sixth Amendment. See Luper v. State, 2016 Ark. 371,
at 3, 501 S.W.3d 812, 815-16. Thompson must identify specific
acts and omissions which, when viewed from counsel's
perspective at the time of trial, could not have been the
result of reasonable professional judgment. Id.
respect to prejudice, Thompson must show "a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional
errors, the result of the proceeding would have been
different." Id. (internal quotations omitted).
A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to
undermine confidence in the outcome of the trial.
Id. It is not enough to show that the errors had
some conceivable effect on the outcome of the proceeding.
State v. Fudge, 361 Ark. 412, 415, 206 S.W.3d 850,
853 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 693). Indeed,
the likelihood of a different outcome must be
"substantial, not just conceivable." Harrington
v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 112 (2011). Counsel's
errors must be so serious as to deprive the defendant of a
fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable.
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.
Thompson satisfies both prongs, it cannot be said that his
conviction resulted from a breakdown in the adversarial
process that rendered the result unreliable. See Gordon
v. State, 2018 Ark. 73, at 5, 539 S.W.3d 586, 591.
Accordingly, there is no reason for a court "to address
both components of the inquiry if the ...