On appeal from the State of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 01-06-0826.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lintner and Alvarez.
Defendant, Roshawn Ward, appeals the denial of his post-conviction relief (PCR) application without evidentiary hearing. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Pursuant to agreement, defendant entered guilty pleas on February 25, 2002, to first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count five); and first-degree kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(b) (count nine). He was to be sentenced to fifteen years on count nine, fourteen years concurrent on count one, and six years concurrent on count five. Counts one and nine were subject to 85% parole ineligibility in accord with the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. When defendant was sentenced on September 13, 2002, by the same judge who presided over the PCR application, however, the sentence imposed was reduced by a year. Appropriate fines and penalties were also imposed.
At sentencing, defendant sought to vacate his guilty plea, alleging his prior counsel and his family had coerced him into the agreement because of the potential for a significantly greater sentence were he to be convicted after a trial. The motion was denied, and neither the decision nor the sentence were appealed.
Defendant was a nineteen-year old probationer when he entered his guilty pleas. The indictment stems from a home invasion robbery on April 13, 2001, in Elizabeth. Defendant was the only perpetrator who was identified and charged with the crime. He, and at least one other person, went to the home of Fadrique Hall, Shron Hall, and Suzanne Hall. Also present in the home were two children. Fadrique Hall, the only man, was taken from the apartment while defendant held the remaining occupants, the two women and the children, hostage by use of a Tech 9 machine gun. The purpose of the conspiracy was to commit robbery, although the details were not clear from the plea transcript, nor from counsel's briefs, but presumably the removal of the adult male somehow furthered the conspiracy.
Defendant raises the following points for our consideration:
IT WAS ERROR NOT TO ALLOW THE DEFENDANT AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING OR GRANT HIS APPLICATION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF
IT WAS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL ON THE PART OF THE POST-CONVICTION RELIEF ATTORNEY TO FAIL TO OBTAIN AFFIDAVITS OR CERTIFICATIONS FROM [WITNESSES] SO THAT THE PCR COURT WOULD BE AWARE THAT THERE WAS A PRIMA FACIE ...