April 14, 2009
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
ROBERT RAND, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 01-09-2809.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 25, 2009
Before Judges Cuff and King.
This is an appeal from a denial of a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). R. 3:22-1. We find no merit in the appeal and affirm for the reasons stated by Judge Cook in his fifteen-page written opinion of August 20, 2007.
This is the procedural history: in indictment number 01-09-2809 filed on September 21, 2001 a Camden County grand jury charged defendant Robert Rand with: one count of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); one count of second-degree conspiracy, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 (count two); one count of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (count three); one count of third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b (count four); and two counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4) (counts five and six).
Defendant entered into a plea agreement in which he pled guilty to count one (first-degree armed robbery) for which the State recommended a ten-year sentence with an 85% parole ineligibility period pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2; the remaining counts (two through six) would be dismissed. At a plea hearing on October 29, 2002 Judge Cook entered defendant's guilty plea in accordance with the plea agreement. After finding that defendant's plea was knowing and voluntary and had a sufficient factual basis, the judge accepted it.
At the sentencing hearing on January 3, 2003 Judge Cook sentenced defendant in accordance with the plea agreement to a ten-year term, with an 85% parole ineligibility term. The judge also imposed a five-year period of parole supervision; a $100 VCCB penalty; a $75 SNSF assessment; and a $30 LEOPA penalty. At the sentencing hearing, defendant also admitted that he had violated his probation, under accusation number 99-11-3478 and indictment number 99-06-1993. The judge sentenced defendant to five-year terms for these violations, concurrent to the ten-year sentence imposed for the robbery conviction. The judge also ordered forfeiture of the weapon involved. Although informed of his right to appeal, defendant never appealed his conviction or sentence.
On November 6, 2006 defendant filed a pro se application for PCR. A supplemental brief was filed on November 16, 2006 by counsel. A hearing on the application was conducted on August 20, 2007 before Judge Cook. He denied the petition after finding that defendant had failed to establish a prima facie claim.
On this appeal the defendant raises five points for reversal of the denial of his PCR petition.
A. THE PREVAILING LEGAL PRINCIPLES REGARDING CLAIMS OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS AND PETITIONS FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF.
B. TRIAL COUNSEL WAS NOT PREPARED FOR TRIAL AND, AS A RESULT, PRESSURED PETITIONER INTO ENTERING A GUILTY PLEA.
C. TRIAL COUNSEL FAILED TO ADVISE PETITIONER OF THE POTENTIAL USE AND IMPACT OF EXPERT TESTIMONY REGARDING PETITIONER'S MENTAL STATE AT THE TIME OF THE INCIDENT.
D. DEFENSE COUNSEL FAILED TO INFORM PETITIONER OF THE DIRECT CONSEQUENCES OF HIS GUILTY PLEA.
E. PETITIONER WAS MISINFORMED REGARDING HIS NERA PAROLE, THUS PETITIONER'S PLEA WAS NOT VOLUNTARY AND SHOULD BE VACATED AND HIS SENTENCE SET ASIDE.
As noted, we find no merit to the appeal, Rule 2:11-3(e)(2), and affirm for the reasons stated by Judge Cook in his written opinion.
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