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State v. Clarke

May 21, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LOUIS CLARKE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 02-01-0079.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 8, 2008

Before Judges Fuentes and Grall.

Defendant, Louis Clarke, pled guilty to four counts of first degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, the court sentenced defendant to four concurrent terms of fifteen years, with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.*fn1 The court also imposed the mandatory fines and penalties. Approximately four months later, the court amended the judgment of conviction to reflect that defendant must serve a five-year period of parole supervision following his release.

Approximately three years thereafter, defendant filed a petition for post conviction relief (PCR), claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied the petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. Defendant now appeals raising the following arguments.

POINT I.

DEFENDANT'S SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO COUNSEL WAS VIOLATED WHEN HIS ATTORNEY THREATENED THAT SHE WOULD NOT REPRESENT HIM AT TRIAL IF HE REJECTED THE STATE'S PLEA OFFER.

POINT II.

DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WAS VIOLATED AS A RESULT OF HIS TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO FILE A MERITORIOUS MOTION TO SUPPRESS AN ALLEGED CONFESSION TAKEN IN VIOLATION OF DEFENDANT'S MIRANDA RIGHTS.

POINT III.

DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WAS VIOLATED AS A RESULT OF THE CUMULATIVE ERRORS AND OMISSIONS OF HIS TRIAL COUNSEL IN FAILING TO PREPARE DEFENDANT'S CASE FOR TRIAL, LEAVING DEFENDANT WITH NO OTHER OPTION THAN TO ACCEPT THE STATE'S PLEA OFFER.

A. Defense Counsel Was Ineffective in Failing to File a Meritorious Motion to Suppress Evidence Seized When the Police Search Exceeded the Bounds of a Search Incident to a Lawful Arrest.

B. Defense Counsel Was Ineffective In Failing to File a Meritorious Motion to Challenge the Impermissibly Suggestive Photo Array Used to Identify Defendant as a Suspect in the First Robbery.

C. Defense Counsel Was Ineffective in Failing to File An Appeal as Requested by Defendant.

D. Defense Counsel Was Ineffective in Failing to Challenge the Validity of the Arrest Warrants.

E. Defense Counsel Failed to Obtain a Tape or Transcript of Defendant's Alleged Confession.

POINT IV.

THE PCR COURT'S DECISION DENYING DEFENDANT'S PETITION IS FOUNDED ON A MISINTERPRETATION OF THE GROUNDS FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF.

POINT V.

THE PCR COURT ERRED BY RESOLVING DISPUTED ISSUES OF FACT AGAINST DEFENDANT AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR ...


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