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State v. Clark

April 7, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JASON CLARK, A/K/A JASON A. CLARK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On Appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 06-11-1033.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 8, 2010

Before Judges Yannotti and Chambers.

Defendant Jason Clark appeals his conviction by a jury of first degree robbery, second degree burglary, third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and fourth degree unlawful possession of a weapon. He received an aggregate sentence of thirteen years with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility.

On appeal, among other issues, defendant contends that a hearing should have been held on his competency to stand trial. However, the record reveals that both a court-ordered evaluation and the defense expert's evaluation found defendant competent to stand trial. A second court-ordered evaluation by another expert also found defendant competent for sentencing. Finding no merit in this and the other issues raised by defendant, we affirm.

I.

The charges against defendant arise from the robbery of Toni Connor on May 27, 2006. Connor testified at trial that on the evening of May 27, 2006, a man whom she later identified as defendant came through the window of her first floor apartment, held a box cutter to her throat, and took money from her. When he left, she called the police, who shortly thereafter found defendant, who matched her description and had a box cutter on his person. The police immediately brought defendant to Connor who identified him as the person who had just robbed her. The police officer who located defendant testified he was found lying in the grass in an adjacent yard.

Defendant was indicted for first degree robbery (count one), N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, second degree burglary (count two), N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2, third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (count three), N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d), and fourth degree unlawful possession of a weapon (count four), N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d). After the trial judge found defendant competent to stand trial, the case was tried to a jury, and defendant was convicted on all counts.

Defendant was then determined to be competent to face sentencing. On June 27, 2008, defendant was sentenced to thirteen years imprisonment on count one, with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility, and to six years imprisonment on count two, with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility, to run concurrent with the sentence on count one. Counts three and four were merged into count one. The trial judge also imposed the requisite period of parole supervision after completion of the sentence and monetary assessments.

On appeal, defendant raises the following issues:

POINT I THE FAILURE TO HOLD A COMPETENCY HEARING DURING WHICH TESTIMONY COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN ON JASON CLARK'S COMPETENCE TO STAND TRIAL AND IN WHICH PSYCHIATRIC OR PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORTS COULD HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED INTO EVIDENCE VIOLATED JASON CLARK'S FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS AND SERIOUSLY CAST SOME DOUBT AS TO THE FAIRNESS OF THE SUBSEQUENT PROCEEDINGS. (Not Raised Below).

POINT II MR. CLARK'S SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL AT EVERY CRITICAL STAGE WAS VIOLATED BY TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO HAVE THE COURT CONDUCT A FORMAL COMPETENCY HEARING BOTH BEFORE THE DEFENDANT'S TRIAL AND SENTENCING. (Not Raised Below).

POINT [III] THE COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT SENTENCED THIS DEFENDANT TO A 13 YEAR TERM FOR WHICH HE MUST SERVE AN 85% NERA PAROLE ...


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