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State v. Epps

May 15, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RONALD EPPS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, 97-01-0485.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 28, 2008

Before Judges Lintner and Alvarez.

This is an appeal of the denial of defendant's petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, defendant raises the following points:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF WITHOUT AFFORDING HIM AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING TO DETERMINE THE MERITS OF HIS CONTENTION THAT HE WAS DENIED THE RIGHT TO THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL.

A. THE PREVAILING LEGAL PRINCIPLES REGARDING CLAIMS OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS AND PETITIONS FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF.

B. THE TIME BAR OF R. 3:22-4 CONCERNING THE OPPORTUNITY TO RAISE CERTAIN ISSUES PREVIOUSLY DOES NOT APPLY TO APPELLANT'S CASE.

C. APPELLANT'S PETITION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD NOT BE BARRED AS OUT OF TIME.

D. PETITIONER'S TRIAL ATTORNEY RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO NOTIFY HIS CLIENT THAT HE WOULD BE SUBJECT TO THE SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR[] ACT, UNDER N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.

E. PETITIONER'S TRIAL ATTORNEY RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE WITH HIS CLIENT.

We reject defendant's contentions and affirm.

On February 26, 1997, defendant, Ronald Epps, in exchange for a recommended custodial sentence not to exceed five years, entered a plea of guilty to first-degree armed robbery of Pamela Davis with the use of a deadly weapon, a razor/box cutter, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (Count One), and fourth-degree possession of a weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d (Count Two).*fn1 At the time of entry of the original plea, counsel and the court were under the misapprehension that defendant had no past criminal record. A subsequent presentence report revealed that defendant had a prior record, including three convictions for first- and second-degree aggravated sexual assault and attempted aggravated sexual assault.

On April 21, 1997, the State was permitted to withdraw its original plea bargain and offer a new one. The State's new offer recommended a fifteen-year custodial term with five years of parole ineligibility in return for a plea to the first two counts of the indictment. Defendant accepted the new plea offer and was ...


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