June 20, 2008
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
JUSTIN POLLARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 99-06-1309.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 3, 2008
Before Judges Fuentes and Chambers.
Defendant Justin S. Pollard appeals from the order of April 27, 2007, denying his application for post-conviction relief.
He contends that he was denied the effective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.
The record indicates that on September 25, 1998, defendant, then nineteen years old, and two co-defendants, entered a TGI Friday's restaurant at closing time and robbed the establishment. The three were masked and armed, and defendant was carrying an unloaded Uzzi. They then fled and were chased by a police officer who happened to enter the establishment during the course of the robbery. During the chase, a co-defendant, presumably shooting at the police officer, struck defendant, who was severely injured in the leg. Shortly thereafter, one of the co-defendants died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On April 17, 2000, defendant pled guilty to first degree armed robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. As part of the plea agreement, the remaining counts of the indictment against him, including counts for first degree attempted murder, aggravated assault, and various weapons charges, were to be dismissed. The plea agreement also provided that the State would recommend a sentence of fifteen years in prison, subject to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, requiring defendant to serve eighty-five percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. On June 23, 2000, defendant was sentenced in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement and the court imposed the requisite monetary fees and penalties.*fn1
Defendant's motion for a reduction of his sentence was denied by the sentencing judge on January 4, 2002. On appeal, defendant's case was placed on the Appellate Division's Excessive Sentencing Oral Argument calendar in accordance with Rule 2:9-11. Oral argument was held on May 8, 2002, and the sentence was affirmed by order dated May 16, 2002. Certification was denied by the Supreme Court. State v. Pollard, 174 N.J. 364 (2002).
In his petition for post-conviction relief filed on January 30, 2007, defendant challenged the sentence and argued that both his trial and appellate counsel provided him with ineffective assistance. He maintained that counsel failed to properly present and argue the aggravating and mitigating factors in this case. On April 27, 2007, the trial court placed on the record a lengthy and thorough decision denying the petition. This appeal followed.
After a searching review of the record, we find that the arguments raised are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2).