Oklahoma Appeals Court Finds Ineffective Counsel

Every defendant in Oklahoma is guaranteed the right to counsel by an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyers; however, as two recently convicted men have discovered, it is critical to find the right attorney to handle your case.  

If a criminal defense attorney is not dedicated to fully investigating your case and building your defense, the outcome of the case may be less than ideal. Last week, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals allowed Shawn Leroy Harger, 38, to withdraw his plea of guilt in a 2010 trial that led to his conviction of child abuse and a sentence of 20 years in prison.  

Harger, who was convicted of shaking his son, entered a blind guilty plea to the child abuse charge as part of a plea agreement that would yield a 20 year prison sentence.  However, Harger filed an application with the state appellate court to withdraw the plea, saying that he had ineffective counsel for his case.  

According to the appeals court, Harger's Oklahoma criminal attorney offered no evidence during a hearing regarding his request to withdraw his plea.  The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals sided with Harger, finding that counsel was ineffective and allowing the defendant to withdraw his guilty plea.

The state appeals court also found evidence of ineffective counsel in the case of a man convicted of first-degree murder in 2009.  Clinton Riley Potts, 36, was convicted of the 2004 murder of Gregory Leroy Clark.  Potts and Clark had been friends, but Potts admitted to threatening to kill Clark for selling drugs to Potts's girlfriend.  When Clark was murdered a month later, Potts was the key suspect based on his earlier threat, but he denied killing his one-time friend.  

According to his Oklahoma defense attorney, the case against Potts was based on circumstantial evidence. In his appeal, Potts claimed that his attorney failed to adequately investigate his case and to challenge witness credibility.  He furthermore asserted that prosecutors failed to provide information to his lawyer that a key witness received preferential treatment in exchange for testimony.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals agreed, and the state attorney general's office did not challenge the findings.  The appellate court has ordered a new trial for Clinton Riley Potts. When finding a criminal lawyer in Oklahoma, it is important to look at several factors, including the attorney's record of success and his or her apparent commitment to your case.  

Thoroughly analyzing all the details of your case, including the evidence against you, evidence to support your innocence, witness credibility, and investigative procedures.  A qualified Oklahoma criminal lawyer should explore every avenue for building the strongest defense.

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