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State v. Jackson

January 22, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES JACKSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 02-01-0082.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 11, 2010

Before Judges Rodríguez and Reisner.

Defendant James Jackson appeals from a January 19, 2007 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

I.

In summary, defendant was arrested after a police officer, who was investigating a possible car theft, saw defendant throw an item away. The officer retrieved the item, concluded it was a bag of drugs, and arrested defendant who was found to have over $500 in cash on his person. The State testing lab determined that the substances in the bag were cocaine and hydrocodone. The defense stipulated that the scene was within 1000 feet of a school.

Based on that evidence, defendant was convicted by a jury of four third-degree offenses: possession of cocaine, a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); cocaine possession with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and -5b(3); school zone CDS possession with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a, -7; and possession of CDS (hydrocodone), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1). He was sentenced to five years in prison with a three-year parole bar.

On defendant's direct appeal, we affirmed his conviction, but remanded for re-sentencing. State v. Jackson, No. A-2103-03 (App. Div. Oct. 20, 2004), certif. denied, 182 N.J. 430 (2005). On remand, he was re-sentenced to a four-year prison term with three years of parole ineligibility. Defendant then filed the PCR petition giving rise to this appeal.

In his PCR, defendant raised the following contentions:

POINT I: PETITIONER WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WHEN DEFENSE COUNSEL FAILED TO ARGUE THAT NOT ENOUGH OF THE SUSPECTED COCAINE WAS ANALYZED AND SHOWN TO BE REAL TO SUPPORT A CHARGE OF POSSESSION WITH THE INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE.

POINT II: PETITIONER WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WHEN DEFENSE COUNSEL DID NOT OBJECT TO THE INCOMPETENT TESTIMONY OF OFFICER HARRIS ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MONEY SEIZED AND DID NOT ARGUE THAT THE POLICE MADE NO EFFORT TO INVESTIGATE THE SOURCE OF THE FUNDS.

POINT III: DEFENSE COUNSEL'S STIPULATION, WITHOUT PETITIONER'S CONSENT, THAT "PROHIBITED CONDUCT" TOOK PLACE IN A SCHOOL ZONE WAS ERROR BECAUSE IT WAS TANTAMOUNT TO AN ADMISSION OF GUILT; PETITIONER WAS DENIED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, TO CONFRONT WITNESSES AGAINST HIM, AND TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW.

POINT IV: DEFENSE COUNSEL ERRED WHEN HE FAILED TO INVESTIGATE THE CASE AND PRESENT EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE AT TRIAL; PETITIONER WAS DENIED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, ...


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