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State of New Jersey v. Pervis L. Samuels

March 14, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PERVIS L. SAMUELS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 10-02-0096.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 28, 2012

Before Judges Carchman and Fisher.

In this appeal, we consider defendant's arguments that he was detained on a constitutionally-defective complaint warrant, that the judge erred in denying defendant's application to withdraw his guilty plea, and that the sentence imposed was excessive. We find no merit in defendant's arguments and affirm.

On September 22, 2009, defendant was arrested in Plainfield and charged with various drug offenses. At that time, the charges were contained in a complaint warrant, which included no statement regarding probable cause for the arrest. On numerous occasions in December 2009 and January 2010, defendant complained to the trial court that there was an unreasonable delay in the presentation of his case to the grand jury and that the process by which he was held in the county jail was flawed, including his assertion that the complaint warrant did not contain a statement regarding probable cause. In responding, the trial judge rejected defendant's contentions; the judge, however, did state that he was "troubled" by the delay in defendant's first appearance.*fn1 As for defendant's assertions regarding the complaint warrant, the judge observed that all police desk lieutenants "are cross-deputized as" deputy court administrators, and "are authorized to administer oaths and make findings of probable cause on all but the most serious offenses." Any irregularities, the judge concluded, were "insufficient to justify dismissal," citing Rule 3:3-4.

Defendant continued, without success, to press his objections to the form of the complaint upon which he had been and continued to be incarcerated. Finally, on February 4, 2010, the grand jury returned an indictment, charging defendant with: third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), cocaine, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); third-degree distribution of CDS, cocaine, within 1,000 feet of school property, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7; second-degree distribution of CDS, cocaine, in or within 500 feet of a public park, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1; second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; third-degree possession of CDS, cocaine, N.J.S.A. 2C:35 10a(1); second-degree possession of CDS, cocaine, with the intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); second-degree possession of CDS, cocaine, with the intent to distribute in or within 500 feet of a public park, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1; third-degree possession of CDS, heroin, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); third-degree possession of CDS, heroin, with the intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); second-degree possession of CDS, heroin, with the intent to distribute in or within 500 feet of a public park, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1; fourth-degree possession of CDS, marijuana, with the intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(12); and third-degree possession of CDS, marijuana, with the intent to distribute in or within 500 feet of a public park, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1.

Defendant later moved for dismissal, reprising his earlier arguments regarding the content of the complaint warrant. The judge concluded that once defendant was indicted, any alleged defect in the complaint warrant was irrelevant. Defendant then entered into a plea agreement with the State and pled guilty to third-degree distribution of CDS, cocaine, within 1,000 feet of school property; the State agreed to a dismissal of the indictment's remaining eleven counts and to recommend a six-year prison term subject to a three-year period of parole ineligibility.

On the date scheduled for sentencing, defendant sought to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that he had been coerced into pleading guilty by an unidentified gang member. The motion was denied, and defendant was sentenced to a six-year prison term with a three-year period of parole ineligibility.

Defendant appealed, arguing:

I. DEFENDANT WAS COMMITTED TO CUSTODY AND DETAINED ON A CONSTITUTIONALLY DEFECTIVE COMPLAINT WARRANT.

II. DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PERMITTED TO WITHDRAW HIS GUILTY PLEA.

III. DEFENDANT RECEIVED AN EXCESSIVE SENTENCE.

We find insufficient merit in these arguments to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). We add ...


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