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State v. Roman

April 2, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
FRANK P. ROMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Municipal Appeal No. M-2007-715.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 6, 2009

Before Judges Winkelstein and Fuentes.

Defendant Frank P. Roman is currently an inmate at a state correctional facility serving a custodial sentence for a crime unrelated to the case under appeal. This appeal concerns summonses issued against defendant by the Holmdel Police Department on January 22, 1995, charging him with fictitious plates, N.J.S.A. 39:3-33; unregistered motor vehicle, N.J.S.A. 39:3-4; driving while suspended, N.J.S.A. 39:3-40; and failure to inspect, N.J.S.A. 39:8-1.

As the State concedes in its brief before us, this case has a tortured procedural history. Although we concur with the State in its characterization of the case's procedural past, distilled to its essence, defendant, through this appeal, seeks only to challenge two orders entered by the Law Division, on September 7, 2007 and October 17, 2007, respectively. After carefully reviewing the record, we affirm.

The record shows that defendant was incarcerated from February 2, 1995 to March 17, 1995. On March 29, 1995, defendant entered a not guilty plea before the Holmdel Municipal Court. He thereafter failed to appear on two court-ordered dates: May 3, and May 31, 1995. The matter thereafter remained dormant for the next six years.

On December 19, 2001, defendant filed an un-notarized affidavit with the Holmdel Municipal Court pleading guilty to all of the outstanding summonses. At the same time, defendant moved for the court to dismiss all fines associated with the summonses or, in the alternative, to convert all fines to jail time pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:5-36. The Holmdel Municipal Court accepted defendant's guilty plea with respect to driving while suspended and dismissed all of the other summonses. The court imposed a $1,000 fine, $2.50 court cost, and sentenced defendant to be incarcerated for a period of ten days.

On January 15, 2002, the Holmdel Municipal Court converted the fines imposed on defendant to jail time. The municipal court ordered defendant to serve eighty-five days in the county jail, consecutive to the ten days originally imposed in connection with his sentence for driving while suspended.*fn1

On March 21, 2003, nearly two years after he pled guilty, defendant filed a pro se motion seeking to dismiss the summonses issued for driving while suspended and failure to inspect. In the notice of motion, defendant stated that he was serving a nine-year state prison sentence at the time. By letter dated April 17, 2003, the Violations Clerk of the Holmdel Municipal Court advised defendant that the municipal court judge had reviewed his "letter." According to the Clerk, the municipal court judge "requested that [defendant] pay the $2.50 fine that is outstanding. He will not dismiss it."*fn2

On October 15, 2004, defendant filed another pro se motion with the Holmdel Municipal Court requesting "a final disposition" on all pending matters. Once again, defendant referred to only the two summonses for driving while suspended and failure to register. Defendant gave the following statement in support of the motion:

I was convicted of several motor vehicle [tickets] and failure to appear. The whole time I have been in State Prison since 11/16/01 to present (2/8/07). [The municipal court judge] found me guilty. Since I can't pay due to the fact that I am in State Prison So. Wood's and won't get out till 7/12/2010.

Is there [any way] I can make these [fines] go away. Like [presenting] a motion I don't know of any and can you send me the name of any Public Defender that works for Holmdel Municipal Court, in order that I may contact him/or her for representation on my [behalf].

There is no record that the municipal court responded to, or otherwise disposed of, this motion. According to the procedural history reflected in the State's December 1, 2005 brief before us, defendant requested that the fines be reinstated. On December 12, 2005, the municipal court converted the jail time to a $1,500 fine to be paid by July 15, 2010. In violation of Rule 2:6-1(a)(1), the State's ...


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