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State in Interest of S.T.

Decided: June 12, 1989.

STATE IN THE INTEREST OF S.T.


On appeal from the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cumberland County.

King, Ashbey and Skillman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Ashbey, J.A.D.

Ashbey

[233 NJSuper Page 599] On August 6, 1986, S.T. received a juvenile delinquency disposition committing her to the New Jersey Training School (McCorkle)*fn1 for having committed the following offenses had she been an adult: (1) for an incident occurring on July 2, 1985: FJ-06-936-86A for assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1a(a) (disorderly persons offense), to an indeterminate term not to exceed one year;*fn2 FJ-06-937-86A for aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(2)

(third degree), to an indeterminate term not to exceed two years; FJ-06-938-86A for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (chair), N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d (third degree), to an indeterminate term not to exceed two years; FJ-06-939-86A for unlawful possession of a weapon (chair), N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d (disorderly persons offense), to an indeterminate term not to exceed six months; FJ-06-3104-86A for aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(5)(a) (fourth degree), to an indeterminate term not to exceed one year;*fn3

(2) for a second incident which occurred on April 9, 1986: FJ-06-2547-86A for aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(5)(d)*fn4 (fourth degree), to an indeterminate term not to exceed one year; FJ-06-2548-86A for resisting arrest, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2 (fourth degree), to an indeterminate term not to exceed one year.*fn5 All dispositions were to run concurrently and she received credit for 81 days in detention.

S.T.'s notice of appeal was filed on September 18, 1986. Relevant transcripts were received by the Clerk of the Court November 20, 1986. Her appellate brief was filed by substituted designated counsel on May 5, 1988. The prosecutor's responding

brief was filed October 11, 1988.*fn6 The appeal was calendared before us for April 19, 1989.

On appeal S.T.'s only challenge to the delinquency adjudication is that her defense counsel's trial performance constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. S.T. was charged with two assaults, one in 1985 and one in 1986. The 1985 charges arose while she was at McCorkle. There S.T. became involved in an altercation with another McCorkle resident. A senior corrections officer interceded, and, with the help of staff and McCorkle residents, broke up the fight. When S.T. heard she was to be placed in "lock-up,"*fn7 she swung a metal chair and hit the officer on the head.

S.T. described the event as follows:

It was a chair beside me, and I said for you hitting my neck I'm gonna hit you. So she -- wait a minute, she had came and said you hit me with that chair, you won't hit nobody else. And Miss Jackson she had came over, tried to get the chair away from me, and I went to hit Bonita with it and she got in the way and she got hit with it.

S.T. was not tried respecting the five charges stemming from this incident until considerably later. On November 8, 1985, she was recalled from McCorkle and placed on probation for one year with a condition that she enter and successfully complete the program at the Devereaux School, a residential school in Pennsylvania. For reasons described as "legal," S.T. entered Devereaux but was retransferred to Pinelands Learning Center (Pinelands), a New Jersey learning center with programs for emotionally disturbed children.

On April 9, 1986, three weeks after S.T. returned to Pinelands, she was in another altercation with a student. S.T.'s teacher attempted to subdue them. S.T. hit her. The teacher

fell to the floor. The desk fell on them. As S.T. left the room, against the teacher's order, she shoved the teacher against the door. The teacher testified that she received bruises, a stiff neck, headaches and numbness in her left arm. When New Jersey State Police Trooper Robert Kwapp advised S.T. she was being put under arrest, S.T. started punching and biting. She had to be wrestled ...


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