November 20, 2007
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
CURTIS JENKINS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment Number 84-06-0764.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 23, 2007
Before Judges Coburn and Fuentes.
Defendant Curtis Jenkins pleaded guilty in 1984 to conspiracy to commit armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; and felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(3). Defendant agreed to plead guilty to these crimes in exchange for the State agreeing not to seek capital punishment. Instead, the State recommended a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, with a thirty-year period of parole ineligibility. At the plea hearing, defendant elected not to give a factual basis as provided for in Rule 3:9-2.
After considering the State's proofs and questioning defendant directly, the trial court determined that defendant entered the plea knowingly, voluntarily, and with full knowledge of the constitutional rights involved. The court also found that at the time of the crime, defendant possessed a firearm for the purpose of robbing the victim; and that he shot and killed the victim in the course of committing the robbery.
Prior to the imposition of sentence, defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. After conducting a hearing on the motion, which included testimonial evidence presented by defendant's mother and girlfriend and his previous trial counsel*fn1, the court denied defendant's motion. The court thereafter sentenced defendant to a term of life, with thirty years of parole ineligibility.
On direct appeal, we affirmed the trial court's ruling and sentence. State v. Jenkins, A-2389-84-T4 (App. Div. May 12, 1987). The Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for certification. State v. Jenkins, 108 N.J. 651 (1987).
Defendant filed a post-conviction relief (PCR) petition on May 18, 1988 alleging, inter alia, ineffective assistance of counsel. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the court denied defendant's PCR petition. On direct appeal, we affirmed the trial court's ruling. State v. Jenkins, A-1953-93-T4 (App. Div. Jan. 23, 1995). The Supreme Court denied a petition for certification. State v. Jenkins, 142 N.J. 450 (1995).
On July 23, 2002, defendant filed a motion for a new trial based on alleged newly discovered evidence. Judge Schultz denied the motion after considering the arguments presented. It is from this order that defendant now appeals raising the following arguments:
BASED UPON THE NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE, DEFENDANT'S CONVICTIONS MUST BE REVERSED; IN THE ALTERNATIVE, AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED.
TO THE EXTENT THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL COULD BE CONSIDERED A PCR PETITION, DEFENDANT'S INEFFECTIVE-ASSISTANCE-OF-COUNSEL CLAIM, THAT COUNSEL INTENTIONALLY UNDERMINED HIS ALIBI DEFENSE, NECESSITATED AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING.
In his pro se supplemental brief, defendant raises the following additional issues.
THE COURT REFUSED TO GIVE DEFENDANT A HEARING TO PRESENT NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE AFTER ACTING ASSIGNMENT JUDGE KEVIN. G. CALLAHAN DETERMINED THAT DEFENDANT WAS ENTITLED TO A HEARING TO PRESENT NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE.
SUBSTITUTE COUNSEL ERRORED [sic] BY TRYING TO INTRODUCE A NEW ALIBI DEFENSE AND CONCEAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST BETWEEN DEFENDANT AND DEFENDANT'S FORMER COUNSEL.
DEFENDANT'S EQUAL PROTECTION, DUE PROCESS AND CIVIL RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED WHEN THE HUDSON COUNTY ASSISTANT CHIEF PUBLIC DEFENDER HELP[ED] TO CONCEAL AN ACT OF DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE OF CRIMINAL LAW AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST BY ASSIGNED COUNSELS STEVEN MENAKER AND GEORGE CAMPEN RESULTING IN ADMINISTRATIVE RACIAL PROFILING.
THE COURT FAILED TO INQUIRE INTO AN APPARENT OR ACTUAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST AS CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED WHICH ADVERSELY [A]FFECTED BOTH COUNSEL'S PERFORMANCE IN A DEATH PENALTY CASE.
After reviewing the record before us, and in light of prevailing legal standards, we are satisfied that defendant's arguments lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). We thus affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Schultz in his memorandum of opinion dated March 2, 2005.