STATE EX REL. SAMUEL L. WILLIAMS
STATE OF LOUISIANA
SUPERVISORY WRITS TO THE CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF
Relator fails to show he received ineffective assistance of
counsel under the standard of Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674
(1984). We attach hereto and make a part hereof the district
court's written reasons denying relief.
WILLIAMS CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ORLEANS
443-906 SECTION "A"
ON PETITIONER'S APPLICATION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF
December 4, 2003, petitioner Samuel Williams was charged by
bill of indictment with one count of first degree rape in
violation of La. R.S. 14:42. He was found guilty as charged
by a jury on August 11, 2011 and sentenced to August 31, 2011
to a life sentence in the Department of Corrections.
Petitioner filed a counseled appeal, and the Fourth Circuit
affirmed petitioner's conviction and sentence. State
v. Williams, 2012-0252 (La.App. 4 Cir. 4/17/13), 115
So.3d 600. Writs were denied by the Louisiana Supreme Court
on November 22, 2013. State v. Williams, 2013-1141
(La. 11/22/13), 126 So.3d477).
filed a pro se Application for Post Conviction Relief
on March 12, 2015 asserting multiple claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel. On January 3, 2016, this
Court denied six of those claims, leaving one ineffective
assistance of counsel claim. In the same ruling, the state
was ordered to submit its procedural objections or answer on
the merits to petitioner's remaining ineffective
assistance of counsel claim. The state submitted an answer on
the merits, and petitioner responded.
remaining claim for adjudication from petitioner's
Application for Post Conviction Relief is whether
petitioner's trial counsel was ineffective, by failing to
object to the introduction of DNA evidence presented at trial
by Gina Pineda, a person who did not actually conduct the DNA
test, in violation of the Confrontation Clause. Petitioner
claims this evidence to be inadmissible hearsay testimony as
the actual technician who conduced the DNA test did not
testify at trial. He contends that the state failed to show
that the technician was unavailable for trial and that he,
petitioner, was not able to cross examine the analyst before
Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as
well as Article I, Section 13 of the Louisiana Constitution
guarantee a defendant the right to effective assistance of
counsel. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668,
686, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).
"The benchmark for judging any claim of ineffectiveness
must be whether counsfeVsA, conduct so undermined the proper
functioning of the adversarial process that the trial Cannot
be relied on as having produced a just result."
Id. at 686, 104 S.Ct. 2052. An applicant must first
show that his counsel's performance was so deficient and
made errors so serious that "counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness." Strickland, 466 U.S. a 688.
Second, it must be shown that any deficiencies in
counsel's performance prejudiced the defense with those
deficiencies being so serious as to deprive the defendant of
a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable. Id.
at 687. Only then shall an ineffective assistance of counsel
claim be granted.
finder's credibility determination is entitled to great
weight and should not be disturbed unless it is contrary to
the evidence. State v. Meyers, 11-1145 (La.App. 4
Cir. 9/19/12), 100 So.3d 938; State v. Johnson,
09-0259, (La.App. 4 Cir. 9/16/09), 22 So.3d 205. Gina Pineda
was accepted by this Court as an expert in the field of DNA
analysis at trial. She was an assistant lab director and
technical leader at Reliagene, the facility which conducted
the DNA testing that was conducted on the fetal
tissue sample and petitioner's DNA. Her testimony at
trial consisted of her opinion drawn from the conclusions of
the DNA results. The Supreme Court in Williams v.
Illinois, ___U.S.___, 132 S.Ct. 2221, 2228, 183 L.Ed.2d
89 (2012) held:
this form of expert testimony does not violate the
Confrontation Clause because that provision has no
application to out-of-court statements that are not offered
to prove the truth of the matter asserted...Out-of-court
statements that are related by the expert solely for the
purpose of explaining the assumption on which that opinion
rests are not offered for their truth and thus fall outside
the scope of the Confrontation Clause.
Id., ___U.S. at, ___ 132 S.Ct, at 2228.
Court does not find that the presentation of] DNA evidence
via Gina Pineda was violative of the Sixth Amendment's
Confrontation Clause. Ms. Pineda's history as an expert
in this Court as well as other sections of Criminal District
Court is well-documented. The jury and this Court were
convinced of Ms. Pineda's credibility when she testified
about her opinion regarding the DNA testing results which
indicated that petitioner's DNA profile matched that
tested against the fetal tissue. Moreover, petitioner's
trial counsel was allowed to cross examine ...