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State v. Jang

July 24, 2009


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 97-10-1871.

Per curiam.


Submitted May 4, 2009

Before Judges Lisa and Sapp-Peterson.

Defendant Jshik Jang appeals from the October 26, 2007 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

Following a trial in 1999, defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2); first-degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2); first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; two counts of first-degree felony-murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3); second-degree armed burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2; two counts of third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4 and 2C:39-5(b); and second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a). Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of life in prison, which included a forty-year period of parole ineligibility.

In a reported opinion, we affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. State v. Jang, 359 N.J. Super. 85 (App. Div. 2003). The Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for certification. State v. Jang, 177 N.J. 492 (2003).

In June 2004, defendant filed a pro se PCR petition. Thereafter, in March 2007, defendant filed an addendum to the petition. Counsel was assigned to represent defendant and filed a brief on his behalf. The court conducted oral argument on the issues raised in the PCR petition on October 26, 2007, and on that same date, issued an oral opinion from the bench denying relief.

In denying the petition, the judge concluded that the issues raised in defendant's pro se petition had been raised and addressed on direct appeal and were therefore barred pursuant to Rule 3:22-5. As to the other issues raised, the judge found that there was "not one piece of evidence that indicates that the [jury foreperson] was unable to fulfill her duty as a juror." He concluded, "[t]he record is absolutely void as to any reason why this [issue] should be set down for an evidentiary hearing." As to the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the court acknowledged that defendant raised many claims of ineffectiveness but failed to put forth proofs to establish such ineffectiveness under the two-pronged test established in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 688, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed. 2d 674 (1984).

On appeal, defendant asserts that he was entitled to a decision on the merits regarding each of the grounds for relief he advanced. Additionally, defendant claims that as to those issues the court did address, he decided them incorrectly.

We have considered each of these arguments in light of the applicable legal precedents and have concluded that they are unpersuasive. We therefore affirm and offer the following observations.

All of the relevant facts that gave rise to defendant's indictment and his conviction are set forth in our opinion affirming his conviction and sentence on direct appeal, which we recite herein:

In the late evening of January 4, 1995, defendant went to the home of Michael Suh with Jin Sig Choi and another individual identified only as "Mr. Lee" for the purpose of "get[ting] some money" from Suh, a successful businessman known to possess large sums of cash. When Suh pulled into his garage at approximately 11:30 p.m., he was confronted by a man wearing a ski mask and standing next to Suh's wife's car. In an effort to warn his wife, who with her mother and two children was in the home, Suh sounded his horn. Suh, through his rear-view mirror, then observed another masked individual walking towards the driver's window. This second masked man aimed a gun at Suh and pulled the trigger twice, but the gun did not fire. Suh shifted his car into reverse, striking the garage door, and proceeded back down the driveway; the gunman followed him. Mrs. Suh entered the garage from the house and was tackled by the other masked man, who then stabbed her eleven times, killing her.

Defendant was implicated in the crime as a result of a trace of the serial number on the recovered gun that revealed a chain of sales eventually ending with a sale of the weapon to Choi and defendant. When the police also determined that Choi owned a white and silver Chevrolet Blazer, the vehicle observed at the scene of the murder, they contacted the television show "America's Most Wanted" to conduct a profile of the case. The airing of that show resulted in a call from ...

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