Are Defendant Hanson's claims of error reviewable under the common law plain error doctrine or alternatively under the cumulative error doctrine? Was Defendant Hanson denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of trial counsel?FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUNDEmmy Gregg (Emmy) and her then four-year-old son, Aaron, lived across the street from Defendant Hanson (Hanson) in Whitefish, Montana.Hanson contends that his trial was fundamentally unfair in violation of his rights under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and under Article II, Section 24 of the Montana Constitution, and, therefore, his convictions should be reversed. However, “[w]hile Montana recognizes that the accumulation of errors may prejudice a defendant's right to a fair trial, mere allegations of error without proof of prejudice are inadequate to satisfy the doctrine.” State v. First, Hanson asserts that Aaron's testimony was tainted and unreliable, and, therefore, should not have gone to the jury.Hanson concedes that these issues were not properly preserved for appellate review. 126, 137, 915 P.2d 208, 215, we explained that we employ the common law plain error doctrine only on a case by case basis:[T]his Court may discretionarily review claimed errors that implicate a criminal defendant's fundamental constitutional rights, even if no contemporaneous objection is made and notwithstanding the inapplicability of the § 46–20–701(2), MCA, criteria, where failing to review the claimed error at issue may result in a manifest miscarriage of justice, may leave unsettled the question of the fundamental fairness of the trial or proceedings, or may compromise the integrity of the judicial process. Specifically, Hanson argues that Aaron's testimony was not reliable because Detective Lamb used coercive or suggestive interviewing techniques when she interviewed Aaron.Apparently, at Hanson's request, all three would shower together to conserve hot water.And, at times, only Hanson and Aaron would shower together.At his May 27, 1994 arraignment, Hanson plead not guilty. On March 9, 1995, the jury returned a verdict of guilty to both counts.Hanson filed a motion for a new trial on April 7, 1995.
Emmy testified that when she asked Aaron on different occasions about any improper contact with Hanson, Aaron denied that it occurred.
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