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State of New Jersey v. Clayon Godfrey

October 17, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CLAYON GODFREY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 99-06-0373 and 00-05-0289.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 10, 2012

Before Judges Yannotti and Harris.

Defendant Clayon Godfrey appeals from the November 9, 2010 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

On June 30, 1999, a Somerset County grand jury indicted Godfrey for first-degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, of his cousin Rachiem Godfrey.

Godfrey was tried before a jury from April 4, 2000 to April 6, 2000. He absconded on the penultimate day of trial and was consequently indicted for third-degree bail jumping, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-7. The jury found Godfrey guilty of attempted murder. After he was apprehended, Godfrey pleaded guilty to bail jumping.

On January 5, 2001, Godfrey was sentenced on both charges. The sentencing court imposed a fifteen-year prison term subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, for the first-degree crime and a consecutive three-year prison term for the third-degree crime.

We affirmed the convictions and sentence, State v. Godfrey, No. A-3671-00 (App. Div. May 28, 2002), and the Supreme Court denied further review. State v. Godfrey, 175 N.J. 434 (2003).

On March 13, 2006, Godfrey filed a pro se petition for PCR, which was later followed by the assignment of counsel and the submission of both the pro se's and PCR counsel's briefs to the Law Division. Following an unexplained withdrawal of the petition and its subsequent reinstatement, a hearing was conducted by the Law Division on November 8, 2010. Although several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were presented, PCR counsel indicated that the real focus of this post conviction relief application . . . is the [d]efendant is maintaining he did receive ineffectiveness of trial counsel, but particularly as it related to the sentencing phase. The [d]efendant's real request here today is that your Honor give him an opportunity to be resentenced with the effective assistance of counsel.

On November 9, 2010, Judge John H. Pursel issued a fourteen-page written opinion explaining why Godfrey had "not made a prima facie showing that he [was] entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his illegal sentence claim or his ineffective assistance of counsel claim," and denied relief. This appeal followed.

Godfrey reprises his ineffective assistance of counsel claims as follows:

POINT I: THE COURT ERRED IN NOT GRANTING PETITIONER AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON HIS PCR PETITION.

POINT II: PETITIONER WAS DENIED THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL GUARANTEED BY THE UNITED STATES ...


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