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State v. Stokes

August 2, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHRISTOPHER STOKES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Criminal Part, Hudson County, Indictment No. 02-11-2635.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 11, 2010

Before Judges Parrillo and Lihotz.

Defendant Christopher Stokes appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without benefit of an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

Following a jury trial,*fn1 defendant was convicted of armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); carjacking, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2 (count two); third-degree theft by unlawful taking, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3 (count three); third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count four); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count five); and third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (count eight).*fn2 The jury found defendant not guilty of impersonating a police officer, N.J.S.A. 2C:28-8(b) (count seven). After the merger of appropriate offenses, defendant was sentenced to an aggregate extended term of thirty years incarceration subject to an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

On direct appeal, we affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. State v. Stokes, Docket No. A-6021-04T4 (App. Div. Nov. 20, 2006) (slip op. at 9). We need not repeat the facts supporting defendant's conviction, noting they are extensively set forth in our unpublished opinion. Id. at 2-6. Certification was denied. State v. Stokes, 189 N.J. 647 (2007).

Defendant filed a pro se petition for PCR alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel, including the failure to properly investigate various factual assertions regarding the alleged owner of the property and to assert equal protection arguments. Ineffective assistance of appellate counsel was asserted for the failure to present trial deficiencies. The trial judge reviewed the PCR petition and denied relief without the need of an evidentiary hearing.

On appeal, defendant presents the following points for our consideration:

POINT I

THE PCR COURT ERRED IN DENYING POST CONVICTION RELIEF BASED ON TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO FILE ANY PRETRIAL MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS THE EVIDENCE OR TO SUPPRESS THE OUT OF COURT IDENTIFICATIONS OF DEFENDANT AND TRIAL COUNSEL'S UNTIMELY MOTION TO SEVER THE DRUG COUNTS FOR TRIAL.

POINT II

THE PCR COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO CONDUCT AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURES TO FILE MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE, FOR A WADE HEARING AND A TIMELY MOTION FOR SEVERANCE OF THE DRUG COUNTS.

Following our review of the arguments presented, in light of the record and applicable law, we conclude defendant failed to demonstrate a prima facie case for relief and his petition was ...


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