State v. Baskins, ___ N.C. App. ___, 818 S.E.2d 381 (Aug. 7, 2018)

In a case in which the court determined that the defendant received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, it considered whether the officers’ mistake of fact regarding a basis for a traffic stop was reasonable and concluded that it was not. Having found that appellate counsel’s performance was deficient, the court moved on to the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The analysis required it to evaluate how it would have ruled on direct appeal with respect to the defendant’s claim that the officers’ mistake of fact regarding his vehicle registration invalidated the traffic stop. Here, the officers argued that the stop was justified because the vehicle had an expired registration. Although the vehicle’s registration was in fact valid at the time, the trial court had found that the officers’ mistake was reasonable and did not invalidate the stop. The DMV record indicated that the registration was valid and the officers stopped the vehicle “for a registration violation despite having intentionally neglected to read the very sentence in which the relevant expiration date appeared.” Under the circumstances the court found that there is a reasonable probability that it would have determined that the facts do not constitute the sort of objectively reasonable mistake of fact tolerable under the fourth amendment.