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State of New Jersey v. Lawrence Brown

August 4, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LAWRENCE BROWN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Warren County, Indictment No. 03-02-0079.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 2, 2011

Before Judges Axelrad and R. B. Coleman.

Defendant Lawrence Brown appeals from a July 29, 2008 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

On June 10, 2004, a jury found defendant guilty of all counts on a five-count indictment that charged him with first- degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1) (count one); second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count two); third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(2) (count three); fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon (a beer bottle), N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) (count four); and third-degree possession of a weapon (a beer bottle) for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d) (count five). The court sentenced defendant on count one to ten years in prison with eighty-five percent of that term to be served without parole, pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Concurrent terms of seven years and eighteen months were imposed on counts two and four, respectively, and counts three and five were merged into count two.

Defendant appealed, and we affirmed defendant's judgment of conviction in an unpublished opinion, State v. Brown, No. A-0889-04 (App. Div. December 19, 2005). The Supreme Court granted certification, State v. Brown, 187 N.J. 81 (2006), and on April 17, 2007, the Court affirmed our decision and held that "when there is no governmental compulsion involved, the State may fairly cross-examine the defendant concerning pre-arrest conduct or silence to challenge his self-defense testimony."

State v. Brown, 190 N.J. 144, 148 (2007). A detailed recitation of the facts leading to defendant's indictment and conviction can be found in our earlier unpublished opinion and in the opinion of the Supreme Court in Brown, supra, 190 N.J. at 147-48. For purposes of this appeal, it will suffice to note that defendant's convictions arose from an altercation between himself and a friend, Paul Russell. Defendant broke a beer bottle over Russell's head and slashed Russell's face with the broken bottle following a game of cards. Although we found the proofs supported the jury's obvious determination that defendant grabbed money from Russell's pocket before he fled the scene, defendant denied taking the money, and he claimed that he struck Russell with the beer bottle in self-defense after Russell came at him with a knife.

Defendant filed a petition for PCR, which was heard by Judge John H. Pursel on June 25, 2008. On July 29, 2008, Judge Pursel issued an order and written opinion denying defendant's PCR petition. This appeal followed.

On appeal, defendant argues:

POINT I: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE APPELLANT'S PETITION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF WITHOUT AFFORDING HIM AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING TO FULLY ADDRESS HIS CONTENTIONS THAT HE FAILED TO RECEIVE ADEQUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION AT THE TRIAL LEVEL.

POINT II: APPELLANT'S ASSERTION OF STATE AND FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES ARE NOT BARRED BY R. 3:22 ET SEQ.

A. Application for post-conviction relief are subject to the requirements of New Jersey Court ...


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