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REID, Senior Judge.
Appellant, Clinton Turner, challenges the trial court's denial of his motion, filed pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-110 (2012 Repl.); the motion alleged ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial for simple assault.
In October 2013, during his tenure as a Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") officer, Mr. Turner was convicted of simple assault after a bench trial. The government's evidence showed that his conviction stemmed from an incident at a shoe store where he and another MPD officer, Lewond Fogle, were conducting a "business check." The complainant, Daniel Fox, who was working at the store, made an inappropriate comment to Officer Fogle concerning the female store manager. Officer Turner told Mr. Fox, "Don't do anything that will get you fired or arrested." The trial judge found that when Mr. Fox made yet another comment, Officer Turner "grabbed Mr. Fox, pulling him down from his table or seat, and slammed him into a wall and then to the ground and eventually arrested him." Officer Turner pulled some of Mr. Fox's hair out while pulling him down. Mr. Turner testified on his own behalf, explaining that he believed that he was justified in using reasonable force in arresting Mr. Fox, who was being disorderly. The trial court found that Mr. Turner's version of the events was "not credible and . . . not supported by any of the objective evidence," including a video that captured the encounter. The court concluded that Mr. Turner used excessive force while interacting with Mr. Fox and found him guilty of assault.
Mr. Turner lodged a pro se Motion to File a Belated Appeal on October 3, 2014, arguing that his trial counsel had been deficient. This court interpreted his motion as a collateral attack under D.C. Code § 23-110. Mr. Turner also eventually filed a direct appeal of his assault conviction on October 23, 2015.
At the June 3, 2016, D.C. Code § 23-110 evidentiary hearing, Mr. Turner's trial counsel, Harold Martin,
Mr. Martin "may have informally discussed" how the criminal trial could affect Mr. Turner's employment with MPD and he informed Mr. Turner that people "have survived a misdemeanor conviction." However, he did not have a detailed discussion with Mr. Turner about the potential administrative consequences of his criminal case because Mr. Martin believed such a discussion would be a conflict of interest and would involve speculating about results. Mr. Martin did not inform Mr. Turner about any consequences he may face regarding employment and his ability to testify in future criminal cases due to an adverse credibility finding by the court. The "focus was on trying to win th[e] trial."
The trial court denied Mr. Turner's § 23-110 motion on June 7, 2016. First, the court found that trial counsel's representation of Mr. Turner was not constitutionally deficient.
STANDARD OF REVIEW AND LEGAL PRINCIPLES
"For purposes of appellate review, the trial court's determination of whether counsel was ineffective presents a mixed question of both law and fact. Otts v. United States, 952 A.2d 156, 163 (D.C. 2008). "[W]e must accept the trial court's factual findings unless they lack evidentiary support in the record, but we review the trial court's legal determinations de novo." Id. (citation omitted).
MR. TURNER'S MAIN ARGUMENTS
Mr. Turner recognizes that "[t]he Padilla Court itself did not expressly rule on the prejudice issue in that case."
Defense Counsel's Representation at Mr. Turner's Criminal Trial
Based upon our review of the record, our highly deferential standard, and our consideration of Padilla, we conclude that Mr. Turner's trial counsel's representation was not constitutionally deficient; rather it was reasonable under all of the circumstances of this case. See Hinton, supra, 134 S. Ct. at 1088; Strickland, supra, 466 U.S. at 689. The trial court found that Mr. Martin had been in practice since 1983, and many of his cases have involved the use of force by police officers. The trial court also found that Mr. Martin met with Mr. Turner "approximately 20 times over the course of two years," and after hearing the government's evidence at trial, Mr. Martin informed Officer Turner that he would not be acquitted without testifying. As the trial court noted, Mr. Martin's impression was that Mr. Turner wanted to testify, to tell his story.
Mr. Martin met with Mr. Turner, practiced his direct examination, explained how he might be attacked on cross-examination, and generally discussed the importance of being truthful but did not focus on the collateral consequences of an adverse credibility determination.
Mr. Turner's employment consequences cannot be fairly characterized in the same way, despite the seriousness of loss of employment. Given that neither Mr. Turner's conviction, nor his adverse credibility finding, mandated termination but instead subjected him to an administrative proceeding involving an evidentiary hearing, Mr. Turner's employment consequences were not automatic.
The Prejudice Prong of Padilla/Strickland
Since we conclude that Mr. Martin's representation was not constitutionally deficient, we need not address Mr. Turner's arguments regarding prejudice.
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
Mr. Turner and the government indicate that Mr. Turner may be reinstated as an MPD officer based on a recent decision by the Public Employee Relations Board relating to Mr. Turner's administrative appeal of his termination. Mr. Turner indicates, however, that MPD has challenged this decision in Superior Court, and that case has not yet been resolved.
The potential consequences of an adverse credibility finding include Mr. Turner's placement on what is known as the Lewis list, which consists of a list of police officers who have credibility issues. The creation of the list stems from Lewis v. United States, 408 A.2d 303, 309 (D.C. 1979).
Second, testimony from the second panel decision of Mr. Turner's administrative hearing indicates that MPD "currently has officers employed that the U.S. Attorney has problems with but they are still employed."