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State v. Caldwell

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


November 18, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RAHIM CALDWELL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Municipal Appeal No. 29-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 6, 2008

Before Judges Cuff and Fisher.

Defendant was charged with trespass, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(b), resisting arrest, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2, and disorderly conduct, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2, as a result of his repeated refusal to leave his place of employment in Vineland on August 9, 2005. Due to his loud and boisterous conduct, which was upsetting to customers, and his refusal to accede to his employer's numerous requests for him to leave, the police were summoned, resulting in defendant being physically removed.

Defendant was tried and convicted of these charges in the municipal court. The municipal judge imposed a $310 fine, $33 in court costs, a $50 payment to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board, and a $75 safe neighborhood fund assessment, on each of the three offenses.

Defendant appealed to the Law Division, where he was again found guilty. The Law Division judge imposed the same fines and assessments.

Defendant appealed to this court. We discern from defendant's pro se brief that he chiefly argues there was insufficient evidence to establish his guilt on any of the three charges. Defendant has also argued that he was deprived of his rights to counsel, to confront witnesses, and to due process. In addition, defendant asserts that the conviction was obtained "in violation of [his] Fifth Amendment privilege [against self-incrimination]."

We find insufficient merit in all defendant's arguments to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). We add only these brief comments.

After carefully examining the record, we conclude that the evidence fully and firmly supports the findings that defendant refused numerous requests from both his employer and the police to leave the premises, that he resisted arrest and that his overall conduct was disorderly in that it was loud, boisterous and profane. As a result, our standard of review obligates us to defer to the findings of the trial court. State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-71 (1999). And, despite defendant's other blunderbuss contentions, we find no constitutional deprivation. Indeed, we find defendant's argument that he was deprived of the right to counsel to be particularly frivolous. The record reveals that defendant requested that the municipal judge dismiss the attorney appointed to represent him, and that defendant then knowingly and voluntarily decided to represent himself. The Law Division judge twice appointed attorneys to represent defendant; both attorneys successfully moved to be relieved due to defendant's refusal to cooperate. Accordingly, the Law Division judge correctly rejected defendant's argument that a third attorney should have been appointed to represent him. We find no deprivation of defendant's Sixth Amendment rights in these circumstances.

Affirmed.

20081118

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