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State in Interest of R.M

Decided: April 18, 1969.

THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF R.M


Kentz, J.J. & D.r.c.

Kentz

This is a proceeding in the nature of an application for post-conviction relief to set aside adjudications of delinquency on three complaints filed in this court against the juvenile. The facts giving rise to this action may be briefly stated as follows.

On September 4, 1968 a complaint was filed in this court wherein the juvenile was charged with delinquency by virtue of having participated in a robbery. Pursuant to the then usual procedure, forms were mailed to the juvenile and his mother advising them, among other things, of the juvenile's right to retain counsel or, if indigent, to have counsel appointed to represent him. In accordance with the instructions on these forms, they were returned to the court on September 27, 1968. Both were signed by the juvenile and his mother and on each the signer indicated that an attorney was not desired.

Both the juvenile and his mother appeared in court on November 21, 1968 for a hearing, at which time they were advised by the court of the juvenile's constitutional rights. They both indicated that they did not want an attorney for the juvenile and executed written waivers of counsel. The juvenile admitted the offense and was adjudicated delinquent. Final disposition was withheld pending the hearing on another

complaint that had subsequently been filed against the juvenile charging him with an offense under N.J.S. 2 A:4-14.

A hearing on the second complaint was held on December 3, 1968. The court again advised the juvenile and his mother of his right to counsel. Again counsel was waived in open court by the parties and each executed written waivers. The juvenile admitted the offense and was adjudicated delinquent. Final disposition was again withheld because a third complaint had been filed against the juvenile charging him with larceny of a motor vehicle.

This third complaint was read to the juvenile and his right to counsel was again explained to him and his mother by the court. Since he then indicated that he wished to be represented by an attorney, the matter was adjourned to allow him to obtain counsel.

He was interviewed by an officer of the court for the purpose of ascertaining his eligibility to have counsel assigned. The affidavit of the juvenile indicated that he was employed and that he was earning $2.35 per hour. For this reason the court was of the opinion that the juvenile could afford to retain an attorney and assignment of counsel was denied.

On December 10, 1968 the court was advised by the juvenile's mother that he had not obtained the job mentioned in the affidavit, was unemployed and unable to retain an attorney. In view of this information the court assigned counsel on December 12, 1968.

On December 18, 1968 the juvenile and his mother appeared for a hearing but the assigned counsel was not present. The court again cautioned the parties in regard to the right to counsel, but they expressed the desire to proceed without an attorney. Again written waivers were executed by the juvenile and his mother. The juvenile admitted the offense and was adjudicated delinquent. He was then committed to the New Jersey Reformatory for Males, the commitment to be concurrent on all three complaints.

In January 1969 the juvenile contacted the office of the Public Defender, requesting assistance and stating that he had been committed as a result of the above proceedings and had not been represented by an attorney. The Public Defender filed a motion in the nature of an application for post-conviction relief on February 4, 1969, to set aside the adjudications. A hearing was scheduled for March 7, but was adjourned because of the ...


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