Richardson v. BellequeAnnotate this Case
In an action for post-conviction relief, petitioner Charles Richardson successfully contended that his defense counsel had rendered constitutionally inadequate representation during a presentence hearing concerning whether petitioner was a dangerous offender who suffered from a “severe personality disorder” as provided in ORS 161.725(1)(a). Petitioner’s defense counsel cross-examined the psychiatrist who testified for the state, but counsel had not investigated significant records regarding petitioner’s background or consulted with an expert before the hearing, nor did he introduce evidence from a defense expert at the hearing. The jury found that petitioner suffered from a severe personality disorder, and the trial court sentenced petitioner to a lengthy prison term as a dangerous offender. After concluding that petitioner had been prejudiced as a result, the trial court vacated petitioner’s dangerous-offender sentence and remanded the case for resentencing. The Court of Appeals affirmed based on one of the post-conviction court’s conclusions: that defense counsel had provided inadequate assistance through failure to investigate and consult an expert and that petitioner suffered prejudice as a result. The State appealed, arguing the Court of Appeals erred for two alternative reasons: (1) defense counsel made a reasonable tactical decision to rely on cross-examination without consulting an expert; and (2) regardless, petitioner did not establish the required prejudice. The Oregon Supreme Court found no reversible error in the appellate or post-conviction relief court decisions, and affirmed.