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Karatz v. Scheidemantel

Decided: July 27, 1988.

STEPHEN W. KARATZ, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SALLY S. SCHEIDEMANTEL, SUPERINTENDENT, ADULT DIAGNOSTIC AND TREATMENT CENTER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



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

King, Gaulkin and Gruccio. The opinion of the court was delivered by King, P.J.A.D.

King

[226 NJSuper Page 469] The respondent, Stephen Karatz, is presently in custody in the Adult Treatment and Diagnostic Center (ADTC) in Avenel. He was sentenced to ADTC on January 18, 1985 after pleading guilty to the charge of second-degree sexual assault in violation

of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b). Judge Weiss sentenced defendant to a five-year term under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-6 which provides

If a person is convicted of a second or subsequent offense under sections 2C:14-2 . . . the sentence imposed under those sections . . . shall . . . include a fixed minimum sentence of not less than 5 years during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.

The judgment of conviction and order of commitment simply said: "Avenel Diagnostic Center for five (5) years -- not eligible for parole for five (5) years."

When sentencing defendant the judge said:

Defendant qualifies as a subsequent offender. Pursuant to State v. Chapman, 189 N.J. Super. 379 (App.Div.1985), the Court went along with the plea agreement and sentenced the defendant to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel for five years. The time of five years must be served since he is not eligible for parole prior to the five year term being served. The Court felt that the plea agreement of five years was proper since the same result would have occurred if the Court sentenced him to the maximum under a second-degree crime giving him a maximum parole disqualifier pursuant to the Code.

Defendant was allowed 222 days jail credit for time spent in detention awaiting disposition. See R. 3:21-8.*fn1 The 222 days were deducted from Karatz's sentence, advancing his release date from January 18, 1990 to June 10, 1989.

The classification officer at ADTC then calculated Karatz's anticipated statutory commutation credits of 386 days in accordance with N.J.S.A. 30:4-140.*fn2 In addition Karatz had accumulated

144 days work credit as of December 1987 under N.J.S.A. 30:4-92.*fn3

Karatz then filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Law Division claiming that his earned commutation and work credits entitled him to be released on December 1, 1987. Superintendent Scheidemantel sought a dismissal on the grounds that the Law Division lacked jurisdiction and the credits did not apply to a mandatory minimum sentence. A Law Division judge (not Judge Weiss) held that he had jurisdiction and agreed with Karatz's argument that he was ...


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