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State v. Hudson

Decided: July 15, 1988.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RUFUS L. HUDSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, V. RUSSELL SAMUEL HALL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County.

J. H. Coleman and Long. The opinion of the court was delivered by Coleman, J.h., P.J.A.D.

Coleman

The substantial issue raised in these appeals is whether a new trial is required where defendants voluntarily absented themselves from the entire court proceedings before the trial commenced. We hold that R. 3:16 requires a reversal and new trial.

Defendants Russell Samuel Hall and Rufus L. Hudson were charged in five counts of Camden County Indictment 383-02-85. They were tried before a jury and found guilty on three counts of second degree aggravated assault, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1), second degree possession of a handgun with purpose to use it unlawfully, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a, and possession of a handgun without a permit, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b. Each defendant was sentenced to a custodial term of seven years with three years of parole ineligibility for using the gun to commit a second degree aggravated assault. They received concurrent sentences on the unmerged counts. Each defendant has appealed and we now consolidate the appeals.

Defendant Hudson contends:

1. DEFENDANT'S TRIAL IN ABSENTIA WAS NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER N.J. COURT RULE 3:16 AND WAS IN VIOLATION OF DEFENDANT'S RIGHTS SECURED BY THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND THE CONSTITUTION OF NEW JERSEY.

2. DEFENDANT WAS CONVICTED WITHOUT EVIDENCE THAT HE PURPOSELY OR KNOWINGLY ATTEMPTED TO CAUSE INJURY, AND

WITHOUT EVIDENCE THAT HE RECKLESSLY CAUSED INJURY. .

3. THE JURY WAS GIVEN A CHARGE ON AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WHICH ALLOWED IT TO FIND DEFENDANT GUILTY ON EVIDENCE THAT HE RECKLESSLY ATTEMPTED TO CAUSE INJURY. .

Defendant Hall contends:

1. CAN TRIAL OF A CASE COMMENCE AND CONTINUE TO CONCLUSION, IF A DEFENDANT IS NOT PRESENT WHEN THE FIRST FOURTEEN JURORS ARE EMPANELED FOR VOIR DIRE?

2. DEFENSE COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO ADEQUATELY PREPARE FOR TRIAL WAS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, REQUIRING REVERSAL ...


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