Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nevada Supreme Court Says Counsel Not Ineffective In Failing To Raise A Free Exercise Objection

In 2010, a Las Vegas, Nevada doctor, Harriston Lee Bass, was convicted of second degree murder for selling a controlled substance to a woman whose overdose led to her death. (Background).  Subsequently Bass filed a post-conviction petition for habeas corpus alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in his trial and appeal.  In Bass v. State of Nevada, (NV Sup. Ct., July 20, 2018), the Nevada Supreme Court found Bass' objections do not warrant granting of any relief.  The Court said in part:
Bass ... argues that trial and appellate counsel should have challenged evidence introduced in violation of his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. A State investigator testified about a closet in Bass's house set up like a shrine, with a photograph of Bass and a candle, that was searched when investigating the residence for evidence of Bass's mobile medical practice. Bass testified that the area was his wife's prayer room. Bass has failed to show that testimony implying that he and his wife had unspecified religious beliefs in any way infringed on his religious exercise, particularly where the record is silent as to the content of those beliefs.... Accordingly, Bass has failed to show that a First Amendment objection at trial or on appeal was not futile, and counsel were not ineffective in omitting them. The district court therefore did not err in denying this claim.