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Qualifying Okorie Okorocha an an expert

Qualifying Okorie Okorocha an an expert


A. Relevant Trial Court ProceedingsPetitioner was represented by retained counsel, Okorie Okorocha and Nicholas Okorocha, from the preliminary hearing on March 18, 2009, through the end of trial on June 4, 2009. (See CT at 1, 1B, 2, 76, 85, 163.) On July 31, 2009, the date set for sentencing, Nicholas filed a motion asking the trial court to appoint a psychiatrist and to continue the sentencing hearing. (3RT at 430-31.) When the court asked Nicholas whether he was declaring doubt as to Petitioner’s competency, Nicholas said he was not. (3RT  [*15] at 430.) The court then asked Nicholas why it should entertain the motion if he was declaring doubt about competency. (3RT at 431.) Nicholas replied, “Well, [Petitioner] does not want me as his counsel anymore.” (3RT at 431.) The court replied, “He can have appellate counsel, and he will have appellate counsel at some point in time. Today is the date for sentencing. You have been the counsel for now.” (3RT at 431.)After Nicholas declined to waive formal arraignment, and the court began arraigning Petitioner, Nicholas said, “I would like to declare a doubt [as to Petitioner’s competency] if we are not going to have a psychiatrist.” (3RT at 432.) Based on counsel’s declaration, the court found there was legal cause for a continuance, suspended the sentencing hearing, and appointed mental health experts to evaluate Petitioner. (3RT at 432-33.)

At the competency hearing on October 16, 2009, the trial court, after examining two separate reports from a psychologist and a psychiatrist, found that Petitioner was competent for purposes of sentencing. (3RT  [*16] at 435-36.) The court asked for argument from Okorie on the issue of sentencing, to which Okorie argued for leniency based on Petitioner’s psychiatric history. (3RT at 436-39.) When the court asked to hear from Petitioner, Okorie stated he was “hesitant” to have Petitioner address the court because Okorie had trouble understanding Petitioner. (3RT at 439.) The court asked Petitioner if he wanted to be heard, and Petitioner said that he did. (3RT at 439.)

Petitioner addressed the court as follows:

I want to say that throughout this whole trial, I feel like I wasn’t represented right and I was trying to get a couple of motions filed in my behalf. As far as like not just my competency level, but like my prior conviction. I was not convicted of 211. I never owned or had a gun in my life. They are trying to say that [it] was a 211, but it wasn’t a 211 when I got convicted[.]

[¶] But they told me it was a second degree because I never robbed anyone. I was at the scene and somebody had got robbed and they picked me up so the public defender told me when I was fighting the strike I didn’t think I had a strike. I can do county time. I never went to the penitentiary for that. It was county time.  [*17] So I was trying to get my lawyer to file a motion saying you can’t use the prior conviction against me. I had no knowledge of it, Your Honor. I had no knowledge that I had got convicted of robbery when I didn’t rob anybody and they said that in the evidence in the courtroom when I got charged with it.

So I was unaware. I didn’t know. So I was trying to see if I can get that not to be held against me because I know that’s going to carry, that right there is the reason why I’m going to get so much time and I feel like I wasn’t represented right because the whole time during the trial I didn’t get any motions filed in my behalf. Like I feel like I could have at least gotten something a little bit more reasonable because I didn’t get a chance to get any motions filed or anything else like that.

So I feel that should be grounds for like a retrial because I didn’t get a chance to like get any motions in. We didn’t do any expert investigation type work. And I didn’t have any transcript the whole time we were doing the trial. I did not get a chance to look over my trial or nothing and, my constitutional rights, I should have paperwork and transcripts. I didn’t have anything [this] whole time.

(3RT  [*18] at 439-41.)Petitioner then asked the court for leniency, based on the fact that he was a family man with a wife and two daughters, he was not in a gang, and he went to church. (3RT at 441.) The court then imposed the sentence and advised Petitioner of his right to appeal. (3RT at 441-44.) The court then addressed Petitioner’s comments about his retained counsel, as follows:

I’ll also indicate that [Petitioner] has indicated that he is not represented right. Two things I want to mention in this case. Mr. Okorocha is privately retained counsel, and I think he is not only a competent attorney but quite an excellent one. He got rid of count 1 which is the life tail count not exposing [Petitioner] on the life charge in this case.

[I]n regards to the handling and calling of the experts and whatnot in this particular case, I will indicate for the record that a defendant has no right to the defense of his choice or the defense tactic of his choice, it belongs to the lawyer and the lawyer did a good job in this case and I cite [People v. Vaughn (1969) 71 Cal.2d 406, 78 Cal. Rptr. 186, 455 P.2d 122].

(3RT at 445.)Finally, the court concluded:

I will also indicate one last thing, that to the extent that [Petitioner] articulates  [*19] at the court’s invitation on whether or not he has a motion for new trial, that motion is respectfully denied.

(3RT at 445-46.) There was no further indication from Petitioner or his retained counsel that Petitioner wanted to discharge his retained counsel nor a request that the court appoint new counsel or substitute other retained counsel.

(Brunson v. Cash (C.D.Cal. Feb. 27, 2013, No. CV 11-6720-VBF (JEM)) 2013 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 57559, at *14-19.)

e other retained counsel.

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Law + Science = Foresnsics

Law + Science = Foresnsics