On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 06-01-0077.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 23, 2012
Before Judges Reisner and Harris.
Defendant L.C. appeals from the October 29, 2010 order denying his application for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
L.C. was tried by a jury and convicted of second-degree sexual assault by physical force or coercion, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(1); second-degree sexual assault on a related victim aged sixteen to eighteen years old, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(3)(a); and second-degree sexual assault while having supervisory or disciplinary power over a victim aged sixteen to eighteen years old, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(3)(b). After merger, L.C. was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.
We affirmed the conviction and sentence, State v. L.C., No. A-1076-07 (App. Div. Mar. 19, 2009), and the Supreme Court denied further review. State v. L.C., 200 N.J. 368 (2009).
In October 2009, L.C. filed a pro se petition for PCR. In October 2010, after the assignment of counsel, the Law Division conducted oral argument (but not an evidentiary hearing) on the application. The PCR court summarily rejected L.C.'s arguments that implicated issues already addressed in the direct appeal. The court then focused on L.C.'s claim that his trial attorney was ineffective by failing to obtain the testing of all DNA samples that were gathered as part of the criminal investigation. The court commented that "[L.C.'s] argument on the DNA is absolutely a wild goose chase." Additionally, the court stated that it was "always reluctant to talk about strategy of trial counsel in a[n] argument prior to actually having a testimonial hearing," but it was clear that trial counsel argued very effectively . . . that reasonable doubt can arise, not only from the evidence, but from a lack of evidence.
And that what was missing in this case was the prosecutor's proof. They could have done this, they didn't do it, reasonable doubt.
Although trial counsel was ultimately unsuccessful in convincing the jury of the existence of reasonable doubt, the court noted that "[defense counsel] gave a very skilled argument to that effect."
The PCR court also addressed L.C.'s pro se arguments, finding them unpersuasive largely because "quite frankly, [the brief was] unintelligible." Consequently, the ...