On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Division.
SYLLABUS (This syllabus is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court. Please note that, in the interests of brevity, portions of any opinion may not have been summarized).
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rivera-soto
Argued January 18, 2011 --Decided March 8, 2011
RIVERA-SOTO, J., writing for a unanimous Court.
The issue in this case is whether the ruling of State v. Artwell, 177 N.J. 526 (2003), presumptively banning the use of physical restraints on witnesses, applies retroactively and, if so, to what extent.
Defendant was convicted and sentenced in 1999 for the murder of Lamont Stewart and the shooting of Maurice Allen in broad daylight. At defendant's trial, the State did not call Allen as a witness putatively because Allen was then serving a lengthy prison term and, at the time of the shooting, Allen had been engaged in a robbery. Defendant insisted that his counsel call Allen as a witness. Allen was produced in court wearing civilian clothes but with his hands handcuffed behind his back. Defendant's counsel claimed to have been surprised by this, but he did not mention it on the record and did not request a limiting instruction from the court. Rather, defense counsel asked Allen questions to confirm that he was then incarcerated to explain why he was wearing handcuffs. Allen testified that just before he was shot, he had purchased heroin; that he gave a false name at the hospital because he had outstanding warrants; that he avoided talking to police because he did not want to go to jail; and that he had been arrested for armed robbery. Allen also admitted, during the State's cross-examination, that he had several prior felony convictions. When defense counsel asked Allen to draw a diagram of the street where the shooting occurred, the court excused the jury so Allen's handcuffs could be repositioned with his hands on his front so that he could draw. During his testimony, Allen stated that defendant was not the person who shot him and killed Stewart. The jury convicted defendant. His convictions and sentence were affirmed, and the Court denied certification in 2001.
In 2004, defendant filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) and in 2007, through counsel, he filed a new application as within time. Defendant claimed that his trial counsel was ineffective and that he was deprived of his right to due process of law because Allen testified while in handcuffs and the trial court did not instruct the jury that the restraints could not be used to determine Allen's credibility or defendant's guilt. Defendant based his claims on State v. Artwell, which had been decided two years after defendant exhausted his direct appeals. The Law Division initially denied defendant's PCR application, noting that Allen's credibility as a witness was dubious based on his prior felony convictions, admitted drug use and commission of a robbery earlier the day he was shot, and his status as a current inmate. The Appellate Division, however, concluded that Artwell should be applied retroactively and reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on defendant's claims.
On remand, the PCR court conducted an evidentiary hearing and heard testimony from defendant's trial attorney. He stated that he was caught off guard by Allen being shackled, and that he questioned Allen about his criminal record to take "the sting" out of what the State would ask during cross-examination. The PCR judge, who was the same judge that presided over the trial, rejected defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim because it found that defense counsel's advocacy skills were exceptional. The court had reservations about applying Artwell retroactively, but it deemed itself bound by the Appellate Division ruling. Based on the due process claim, the court granted PCR, vacated defendant's convictions, and returned the case to the trial calendar.
The Appellate Division denied the State's motion for leave to appeal. The Court granted leave to appeal, limited to the issue of the retroactive application of Artwell. 203 N.J. 432 (2010).
HELD: Artwell's ruling presumptively banning the use of restraints on witnesses constitutes a new rule of law with prospective application.
1. Emphasizing that Artwell had not been decided until after defendant's trial and exhaustion of his direct appeals, the State argues that Artwell's presumptive ban on physically restraining witnesses was a new rule of law that should not be given full retroactive effect. Pointing to American Bar Association standards and other states' authority, defendant argues that the ban was not a new rule of law and, thus, no retroactivity analysis is needed. (pp. 14-16)
2. In Artwell, a defense witness was compelled to testify in both prison garb and restraints. The Court ruled that "going forward" a defense witness cannot be compelled to testify in prison garb. The Court recognized, however, that in some instances a witness must be restrained. Artwell requires that if the trial court believes restraints are needed for security, it should hold a hearing outside of the jury's presence to state is reasons on the record. Artwell requires the court to give the jury a clear, emphatic instruction that they are to give the restraints no consideration in assessing the proofs and determining guilt. The Artwell Court applied that rule to the case before it, but made no reference as to whether that was a new rule or whether it is to be applied retroactively. (pp. 16-18)
3. Determining whether Artwell is to be applied retroactively implicates a three-step analysis. First, the Court must analyze whether the rule at issue is a "new rule of law," that is, whether it breaks new ground or imposes a new obligation on the State. Second, if it is a new rule of law, the Court balances three factors: (1) the purpose of the rule and whether it would be furthered by retroactive application; (2) the degree of reliance placed on the old rule by those who administered it; and (3) the effect a retroactive application would have on the administration of justice. If the first two steps are satisfied and the Court determines that retroactivity is appropriate, the Court chooses one of four retroactivity options: purely prospective, prospective, pipeline retroactive, or fully retroactive. (pp. 19-22)
4. First, Artwell's ruling constitutes a new rule of law. There was a paucity of authority in New Jersey dealing with the issue. Even among other jurisdictions that had addressed it, there was debate about whether witness restraints implicated due process considerations. Artwell's presumptive ban on the use of defense witness restraints breaks new ground, imposes a new obligation on the State, and is sufficiently novel and unanticipated. (pp. 22-24)
5. The factors relevant to the second step balance against the retroactive application of Artwell's partial prohibition of defense witnesses testifying in restraints. Because restraints may be used for courtroom security, the fair-trial purpose of Artwell will not always be advanced by its retroactive application. Also, prior to Artwell, those who administered our criminal justice trial system relied on being able to require witness restraints without limitation. Finally, giving retroactive application to Artwell's presumptive ban will wreak havoc on the administration of justice, calling into question every trial in which a defense witness may have testified in restraints. (pp. 24-25)
6. Third, Artwell's limited prohibition on the use of restraints on witnesses, which was applied in that case, applies prospectively to future cases. The Court declines to find that it should have full retroactivity and need not consider in this case whether Artwell would also be entitled to pipeline retroactivity. (pp. 25-26)
7. Because Artwell is not given full retroactive effect and defendant's direct appeals were exhausted before Artwell was decided, the Court rejects his claim that requiring Allen to testify in restraints denied him a fair trial. (p. 26)
The PCR court's judgment is REVERSED anddefendant's convictions and sentence are REINSTATED.
CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER, JUSTICES LONG, LaVECCHIA, ALBIN, and HOENS, and JUDGE STERN (temporarily assigned) join in JUSTICE RIVERA-SOTO's opinion.
Paul J. Casteleiro argued the cause for respondent.
JUSTICE RIVERA-SOTO delivered the opinion of the Court.
In 1999, defendant Jamiyl Dock was convicted of and sentenced for the murder of Lamont Stewart and the shooting of Maurice Allen in broad daylight on a Newark street; his convictions and sentence were affirmed by the Appellate Division and this Court denied defendant's petition for certification. In 2004, defendant filed a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR), claiming, among other things, (1) that his trial counsel was ineffective when he "permitted, without objection, Maurice
Allen to testify as a defense witness while handcuffed and failed to request a jury instruction forbidding the consideration of the restraints in determining the witness's credibility and/or the defendant's guilt[,]" and (2) that he was "deprived of his right to due process of law, a fair trial and to summon witnesses on his behalf . . . when his star witness, Maurice Allen, was forced to testify in restraints and/or the court failed to issue an instruction that the restraints could not be used to determine Allen's credibility or the defendant's guilt." Those assertions were based on State v. Artwell, 177 N.J. 526 (2003), a decision rendered four years after defendant was convicted and sentenced, and two years after defendant's direct appeals were exhausted. Defendant's PCR application initially was denied but, after a remand with directions was ordered by the Appellate Division, the Law Division deemed itself compelled to grant defendant's PCR application, vacate his convictions and return the case to the trial docket.
We reverse and reinstate defendant's convictions and sentence because defendant would be eligible for the benefit of the rule in Artwell if and only if that decision were given full retroactive effect, a step that is ...