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Padilla v. State

Supreme Court of Idaho

December 22, 2016

STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

2016, Opinion No. 154

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Twin Falls County. Hon. Randy J. Stoker, District Judge.

         The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

          Dennis A. Benjamin; Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, LLP; Boise; argued for appellant.

          Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, argued for respondent.

          EISMANN, Justice.

         This is an appeal from the dismissal of a petition for post-conviction relief asserting that the Defendant's trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion to suppress evidence. Because no such motion would have been successful, we affirm the judgment of the district court.


         Factual Background.

         Tarango Deforest Padilla was convicted of two counts of grand theft and was found to be a persistent violator. He appealed his conviction, and it was affirmed by the Idaho Court of Appeals in an unpublished opinion. He later timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief, contending that his attorney provided ineffective assistance in failing to file a motion to suppress. The district court held a hearing and denied his petition. Mr. Padilla appealed again, and the Idaho Court of Appeals vacated the judgment dismissing his petition and remanded the case for further factual findings by the district court. The district court made further findings and again denied Mr. Padilla's petition. Mr. Padilla again appealed and the appeal was heard by the Idaho Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court. Mr. Padilla filed a petition for review with this Court, which we granted. In cases that come before this Court on a petition for review of a decision of the Court of Appeals, we do not review the decision of the Court of Appeals. We hear the case anew as if the appeal had initially came directly to this Court. State v. Suriner, 154 Idaho 81, 83, 294 P.3d 1093, 1095 (2013). We heard the appeal anew, and we affirm the district court.

         On August 7, 2011, at about 2:00 a.m., Mr. Padilla was walking down an alley when a police car pulled up with its headlights off. The officer turned on the car's headlights and turned the vehicle so that Mr. Padilla could see that it was a clearly marked police car. After stopping the car, the officer began getting out, and Mr. Padilla turned and began running away. The officer shouted several times for Mr. Padilla to stop, but he kept running. The officer ran after him. Mr. Padilla ran between some houses and jumped over a fence, twisting his ankle when he landed and fell to the ground. As he lay in the bushes where he had fallen, he tossed everything that he did not want found on him into the bushes. Those items included a stolen credit card and pieces of a spark plug, which can be used to break into vehicles. Another officer heard the first officer's radio call for assistance, and he located Mr. Padilla where he had fallen. He immediately handcuffed Mr. Padilla and patted him down for weapons, but did not feel anything that felt like a weapon. When the first officer arrived, he searched the area where Mr. Padilla had been and found a credit card issued to a Mr. Mauch, some money, and the pieces of the spark plug, which he knew from his training and experience could be used to break into vehicles. He observed that all of these items were clean and appeared to have been recently placed there. The officer then searched Mr. Padilla's person and found two other credit cards belonging to a Ms. Labrum and more pieces of a spark plug.


         Did the District Court Err in Dismissing Padilla's Petition for Post-Conviction Relief?

          "To prove ineffective assistance of counsel, the defendant must prove that counsel's performance was deficient and that this deficient performance prejudiced the defendant's case." Pierce v. State, 142 Idaho 32, 34, 121 P.3d 963, 965 (2005). "To prevail on such a claim, the applicant for post-conviction relief must demonstrate (1) counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, the result would have been different." State v. Payne, 146 Idaho 548, 561, 199 P.3d 123, 136 (2008). "Judicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential. . . . Because of the difficulties inherent in making the evaluation, a court must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance . . . ." Strickland v. Washington, ...

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