NADIA R. WILLIAMS, Appellant
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee
Appeal from the 182nd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1434378
consists of Justices Jennings, Huddle and Lloyd.
Russell Lloyd Justice.
hearing on the State's motion to adjudicate, the trial
court found appellant, Nadia R. Williams, guilty of the
third-degree felony offense of assault of a public servant,
and assessed her punishment at ten years' incarceration.
On appeal, appellant argues that her counsel was ineffective
during the punishment phase of the adjudication hearing
because her counsel failed to offer specific mitigating
evidence. We affirm the trial court's judgment.
pleaded guilty to the offense of assault of a public
servant, pursuant to a plea bargain, and the trial
court placed her on deferred-adjudication community
supervision for three years. After the State filed a motion
to adjudicate appellant's guilt, appellant sent the trial
court a letter in which she explained her difficult childhood
and her recent efforts to turn her life around, and asked the
court for leniency. Appellant also informed the court that
she had been raised in foster care and did not want the same
for her own children. She also told the court that she had
been depressed while she was on community supervision because
she had recently learned that she had a medical condition.
the adjudication hearing, appellant testified that she had
recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and her daughter
had been hospitalized while appellant was on community
supervision. When asked if her circumstances had changed,
appellant testified that she had "a good support system
now, " because she had a godmother who could watch
appellant's children while she worked. When her counsel
asked her if there was anything else that she wanted to tell
the court, appellant answered, "No ma'am."
Appellant's counsel did not offer appellant's letter
into evidence during the hearing.
Assistance of Counsel
standard of review for evaluating claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel is set forth in Strickland v.
Washington. 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2064
(1984). Under the Strickland two-step analysis, a
defendant must demonstrate that (1) her counsel's
performance fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness and (2) there is a reasonable probability
that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result
of the proceeding would have been different. Id. at
687-88, 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2064, 2068; Nava v. State,
415 S.W.3d 289, 307 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013). An appellant
bears the burden of proving her claims by a preponderance of
the evidence. Jackson v. State, 973 S.W.2d 954, 956
(Tex. Crim. App. 1998). Failure to make the required showing
of either deficient performance or sufficient prejudice
defeats the ineffectiveness claim. See Williams v.
State, 301 S.W.3d 675, 687 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009).
review of counsel's representation is highly deferential;
we must "indulge in a strong presumption that
counsel's conduct was not deficient."
Nava, 415 S.W.3d at 307-08; see Strickland,
466 U.S. at 686. To rebut that presumption, a claim of
ineffective assistance must be "'firmly founded in
the record, '" and "'the record must
affirmatively demonstrate'" the meritorious nature
of the claim. See Menefield v. State, 363 S.W.3d
591, 592 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012) (quoting Goodspeed v.
State, 187 S.W.3d 390, 392 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005)).
Thus, the trial record alone is rarely sufficient to
demonstrate an ineffective-assistance claim. Nava,
415 S.W.3d at 308. If trial counsel has not been afforded the
opportunity to explain the reasons for his conduct, we will
not find him to be deficient unless the challenged conduct
was "'so outrageous that no competent attorney would
have engaged in it.'" Id. (quoting
Menefield, 363 S.W.3d at 593); Goodspeed,
187 S.W.3d at 392; see Mata v. State, 226 S.W.3d
425, 431 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007) (noting "presumption
that trial counsel's performance was reasonably based in
sound trial strategy").
argues that she received ineffective assistance because her
counsel failed to put appellant's letter into evidence or
address the issues raised in the letter at the hearing.
According to appellant, "there can be no explanation for
the trial attorney not to put on any mitigating evidence
since this clearly was the implemented trial strategy."
The record, however, reflects that counsel did elicit
testimony regarding some of the issues raised in the letter,
i.e., appellant's breast cancer diagnosis and her
employment status. Appellant's counsel also elicited
testimony indicating, albeit indirectly, that appellant did
not previously have a good support system to assist her in
raising her children. Moreover, the record is silent as to
why counsel decided not to introduce the letter into evidence
or address some of the other issues raised in the letter,
such as her time in the foster care system. Appellant has not
rebutted the strong presumption that her trial counsel's
performance was trial strategy within the range of reasonable
professional assistance. See Menefield, 363 S.W.3d
after reviewing the record, including counsel's
presentation of some mitigating evidence that was admitted
through appellant's testimony, and appellant's
testimony that there was nothing more that she wanted to tell
the court, we cannot say that counsel's decision to not
introduce additional mitigation evidence was "'so
outrageous that no competent attorney would have engaged in
it.'" Nava, 415 S.W.3d at 308 (quoting
Menefield, 363 S.W.3d at 593); cf. generally
Miller v. State, 728 S.W.2d 133, 134-35 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1987, pet. ref'd) (holding
defense counsel's racial remarks during closing argument
and other inflammatory comments "cannot be considered a
reasonable trial strategy").
also perfunctorily contends that "the record is also
clear that should [her] attorney have put on this mitigation
evidence, the outcome would have been different, "
without providing any substantive argument or analysis.
Appellant's conclusory statement is insufficient to
demonstrate the second prong of Strickland, i.e.,
that there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different. Id. at 687-88,
694, 104 S.Ct. at 2064, 2068; see also Jackson, 973
S.W.2d at 956 (stating defendant bears burden of proving
ineffective assistance claim by preponderance of evidence).
We further note that, despite the dissent's extended
exegesis on the shortcomings of foster care, nothing in the
record supports the conclusion that the result would probably
have been different if the letter had been introduced.
appellant has failed to make a required showing of either
prong under Strickland, we overrule appellant's