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State v. Bulla

July 8, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ERIC BULLA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Indictment No. 03-03-0260.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 3, 2009

Before Judges Axelrad and Messano.

Defendant Eric Bulla appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. He raises the following issues for our consideration:

POINT ONE

[DEFENDANT] IS ENTITLED TO RELIEF OR A HEARING ON HIS CLAIM THAT HIS TRIAL AND APPELLATE ATTORNEYS RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.

POINT TWO

THE CLAIMS IN [DEFENDANT'S] PETITIONS AND BRIEFS ARE INCORPORATED IN THIS APPEAL UNDER STATE V. WEBSTER, 187 N.J. 254 (2006).

We have considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable legal standards. We affirm.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(2); first-degree carjacking, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2; third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a); three counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(4); and second-degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b). Following trial, defendant pled guilty to second-degree certain persons not to possess weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(6)(1), a count that was severed from the indictment pre-trial. He was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of thirty-one years, three months.

We affirmed his conviction on direct appeal, though we remanded the matter to the trial court for reconsideration of defendant's sentence in light of State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005). State v. Bulla, A-1224-04 (App. Div. December 19, 2005). On remand, defendant's sentence was modified to reflect an aggregate term of thirty years, including, on the twenty-two year carjacking sentence, an 85% period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Defendant's petition for certification was denied. State v. Bulla, 186 N.J. 366 (2006).

Defendant filed his pro se petition for PCR on July 27, 2006. It contained no factual basis for the requested relief. After counsel was assigned, defendant filed a certification in support of the petition, dated March 2, 2007. He claimed his trial counsel "never came to visit [him] while [he] was in jail," "did not review the discovery with [him]," and failed to present "a coherent defense plan[.]" He named three people, claiming he supplied their names to trial counsel and they "would have provided a basis for [his] defense." Defendant further alleged trial counsel failed to "challenge or object" when the State acknowledged that a gun seized during law enforcement's chase and apprehension of defendant was "destroyed" before trial. He also claimed appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance because "he did not have sufficient contact with [him] to make use of [his] knowledge of the matter[.]"

Defendant filed another certification on July 6, 2007 in which he claimed the State failed to prove all the elements of illegal possession of a firearm because it never proved he lacked the required permit. On August 30, 2007, defendant filed yet a third certification in which he claimed the State had violated his "constitutional rights" by indicting him for terroristic threats and aggravated assault against one of the victims, Amabel Aquino, without producing any evidence before the grand ...


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