Appeal from Circuit Court, Marion County. Jena V. Schlegel, Judge.
Dale Pierson, Salem, argued the cause and filed the brief for appellant.
Thomas H. Denney, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Lee Johnson, Attorney General, and John W. Osburn, Solicitor General, Salem.
Schwab, Chief Judge, and Foley and Thornton, Judges.
In this post-conviction proceeding, petitioner seeks relief from judgments entered on his pleas of guilty to three counts of first degree murder.*fn1 He contends that: (1) he was denied effective assistance of counsel; (2) his guilty pleas were not knowingly and understandingly made; and (3) the prosecution failed
to disclose exculpatory evidence in its possession to him. The post-conviction court denied relief, and petitioner appeals.
Between his arrest in late May of 1969 and his guilty pleas made about a month later, petitioner was represented by two court-appointed attorneys, both experienced members of the bar. It is unclear exactly why petitioner believes the service rendered by his attorneys was inadequate. Apparently petitioner's principal complaint relates to one psychiatric examination of himself.
During the first few days following petitioner's arrest, his attorneys decided the only possible line of defense was insanity. Accordingly, between June 9 and June 25 petitioner was examined by five psychiatrists and two clinical psychologists. Their findings were unanimous -- that petitioner was legally sane at the time of his commission of the murders.
Petitioner's adequacy-of-counsel claim relates to one of these examinations, that conducted by Dr. Suckow on June 9. Petitioner's attorneys advised him to describe completely and truthfully the circumstances of his crimes to Dr. Suckow and the other persons conducting examinations. Petitioner's attorneys were not present during Dr. Suckow's examination. During that examination, an intercom between the office occupied by Dr. Suckow and petitioner and another office was left open, and the district attorney and two police officers monitored the examination.
The decision of petitioner's attorneys to pursue exclusively an insanity defense does not in any way amount to inadequate assistance of counsel. His attorneys' conclusion was based on: (a) petitioner's detailed admissions to them that he had committed the
three murders; (b) an investigation by one of petitioner's attorneys that corroborated his admissions to them, and also revealed incriminating evidence that was presumably available to the prosecution; (c) petitioner had confessed to the police; and (d) petitioner's attorneys learned that the prosecution possessed a mass of highly incriminating physical evidence seized from petitioner's person and home, including, for example, photographs petitioner had taken of his victims before and after the murders. Faced with ...