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State v. Stewart

December 10, 2007

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RODNEY STEWART, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, No. 03-06-2102-I.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 31, 2007

Before Judges Wefing and R. B. Coleman.

Defendant entered a negotiated plea of guilty to one count of disarming a law enforcement officer, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-11, a crime of the first degree, and was sentenced to twelve years in prison, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act ("NERA"), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Defendant has appealed. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

A twenty-nine count indictment was returned against defendant, which included, in addition to the charge to which defendant pled guilty, one count of second-degree criminal attempt to escape, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1, 2C:29-5(a); one count of first-degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1, 2C:11-3(a); one count of third-degree aggravated assault upon a police officer, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(5); six counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(4); six counts of second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1); six counts of third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(2); one count of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a); one count of third-degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3; and five counts of issuing or passing a bad check, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5(a), one in the fourth degree and four in the third degree.

Defendant was arrested on March 20, 2003, following a complaint by Haddon Savings Bank that he had attempted to pass a series of bad checks. After defendant was in custody on these charges, he complained of chest pains and was transported to the hospital for examination. While there, he became involved in an altercation with one of the officers who had accompanied him to the hospital. The two struggled with one another, landing on the floor in a hallway of the emergency department. While they were fighting, defendant was able to take possession of the officer's gun, which discharged during their struggle. Fortunately, no one was injured by the bullet. One of the attending physicians came to the aid of the officer and assisted in subduing defendant. Defendant was twenty years old at the time. According to his pre-sentence report, he had several juvenile dispositions, but this was his first adult conviction.

When defendant appeared before the trial court for sentencing, he moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied his motion and proceeded to sentence defendant in accordance with the terms of the negotiated agreement. Defendant has appealed and makes the following arguments:

POINT I

THE COURT'S FAILURE TO ORDER A PLENARY HEARING TO ADDRESS ALLEGATIONS THAT THE PLEA WAS THE PRODUCT OF MISGUIDANCE FROM HIS TRIAL LAWYER WAS AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION.

POINT II

THE COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST TO WITHDRAW HIS GUILTY PLEA PRIOR TO SENTENCING.

POINT III

THE DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE VIOLATED THE SIXTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE ...


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