On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment Nos. 99-01-0356 and 99-01-0357.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 21, 2009
Before Judges Payne and Miniman.
Defendant, Maurice Valentine, was indicted for crimes allegedly occurring on August 13, 1998, consisting of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); third-degree possession of a shotgun without a firearms purchaser identification card, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5c(1) (count two); third-degree unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3b (count three); and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (count four); as well as crimes allegedly occurring on August 14, 1998, consisting of third-degree possession of a shotgun without a firearms purchaser identification card, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5c(1) (count five); and third-degree unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3b. In a separate indictment, defendant was charged with second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b. The matter was tried to a jury, which reached a partial verdict of guilt on the two August 14 weapons charges. After determining that the verdict on the two counts was unanimous and instructing the jury that its verdict would be deemed final as to those counts, the trial judge took a partial verdict. Thereafter, he gave the jury a modified Allen*fn1 charge, and he instructed the jury to recommence deliberations. Following a weekend hiatus, the jury rendered guilty verdicts on the remaining counts of the first indictment. Trial of the convicted felon charge contained in the second indictment also resulted in a guilty verdict. Following merger of certain charges, defendant was given concurrent custodial sentences that totaled twenty years, subject to the eighty-five percent parole ineligibility period and the five-year period of parole supervision mandated by the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.
The record reveals that, on August 13, 1998, defendant robbed Edwin Negron when Negron entered the lobby of 254 Prince Street in Newark to purchase heroin. During the robbery, defendant struck Negron twice in the head with a sawed-off shotgun, causing an injury that required sixteen stitches. The robbery was fully or partially witnessed by a building tenant, Jeannette Martin, and was reported to the police. Defendant was apprehended the following day, and a sawed-off shotgun was found in his left pants leg.
On appeal, defendant's convictions and sentence were affirmed. State v. Valentine, 345 N.J. Super. 490 (App. Div. 2001). His petition for certification was denied. State v. Valentine, 171 N.J. 338 (2002).
Thereafter, on May 3, 2002, defendant sought post-conviction relief (PCR), but his petition was denied after oral argument by counsel, held on June 16, 2008. This appeal followed.
On appeal, defendant presents the following arguments:
DEFENDANT WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL AND APPELLATE COUNSEL IN VIOLATION OF U.S. CONST. AMENDS. VI, XIV; N.J. CONST. ART. I, ¶ 10.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AND TRIAL COUNSEL PROVIDED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WHEN SHE AGREED TO THE COURT TAKING PARTIAL VERDICTS AND CONTINUING JURY ...