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State v. Ramnauth

July 26, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LALL RAMNAUTH, A/K/A LALL B. RAMNAUTH, LALL B. RAMNUTH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 02-10-1261.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 4, 2010

Before Judges Wefing and Messano.

Defendant appeals from a trial court order denying his petition for post-conviction relief ("PCR") following a plenary hearing. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

A jury convicted defendant of attempted second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1), and third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d. The trial court sentenced defendant to an aggregate seven years in prison, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act ("NERA"), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Defendant appealed from the judgment of conviction, entered on October 10, 2003, and this court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentence in an unpublished opinion. State v. Ramnauth, No. A-1631-03T4 (App. Div. Mar. 24, 2005). The Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for certification. 183 N.J. 590 (2005).

In our earlier opinion, we summarized the factual background underlying defendant's convictions.

Defendant and his wife resided with his father-in-law and mother-in-law at their home in New Brunswick. On the evening of July 30, 2002, defendant, who appeared to be intoxicated, had an argument with both his mother-in-law and father-in-law. His father-in-law told defendant to leave the house and not return until he was sober.

The next day, the father-in-law went to work. Defendant was seen at about 8:00 a.m. in his father-in-law's workplace walking towards his father-in-law with a piece of wood in his hand, a stick measuring in width approximately one by four inches. The two had a brief argument and then defendant was seen striking his father-in-law, who at that time was wearing a safety helmet. The first strike came down on the helmet, but the next several strikes hit his arms and shoulders, causing skin abrasions. No doubt defendant attempted to cause serious bodily injury. Clearly, he used the stick as a weapon. The father-in-law fell to the ground unconscious, but he revived before police officers arrived.

Defendant filed a timely petition for PCR in which he contended he had ineffective representation from the attorney who represented him at trial. Counsel represented defendant in connection with that petition, and the trial court, after hearing testimony and receiving briefs, denied the petition. This appeal followed. Defendant raises the following arguments on appeal:

The trial court erred in denying defendant's petition for post-conviction relief.

A. Counsel operated under an impermissible conflict of interest because he represented, in previous matters, members of the victim's immediate family.

B. Counsel failed to investigate and impeach the State's proofs and investigate and obtain exculpatory witnesses and evidence on defendant's behalf for trial.

C. Counsel failed to sufficiently meet and discuss the case with defendant; and counsel interfered with defendant's right to testify on his own behalf at trial by erroneously advising defendant not to testify due to prior criminal history ...


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