State v. Harris, 256 N.C. App. 549 (Nov. 21, 2017)

In this attempted murder and assault case, the court rejected the defendant’s claim that his lawyer rendered ineffective assistance by failing to object to the introduction of testimony about street gangs. The court rejected the assertion that there was no strategic reason for trial counsel to fail to object to the evidence. The record clearly established that trial counsel’s strategy was to show that the shooting may have been gang related. Counsel’s strategy focused on the victim’s own criminal record and gang connections, the fact that he was shot again when the defendant was incarcerated, and the connection between where the gun was found and the gang with which the victim was associated. Counsel further asserted in jury argument that the prosecution reflected law enforcement tunnel vision and a failure to explore other possible culprits. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that this trial strategy constituted ineffective assistance of counsel.