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State of New Jersey v. Courtney Clement

November 20, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
COURTNEY CLEMENT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 02-09-1816.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 30, 2012 -

Before Judges Reisner and Hoffman.

Defendant Courtney Clement appeals from a June 18, 2010 order denying her motion for reconsideration of a September 15, 2009 order denying her second petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

I

Defendant was indicted for first-degree murder, after she stabbed Isheika Silas to death with a knife on March 19, 2002. Her murder trial ended when the judge declared a mistrial. Thereafter, defendant pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced on May 20, 2004, to twenty-five years in prison, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. She moved to withdraw her guilty plea prior to sentencing. Judge Paul F. Chaiet, who had also presided over the previous trial that ended in a mistrial, denied the motion for reasons he stated at length on the record on May 20, 2004.

We affirmed the conviction and sentence on defendant's direct appeal, State v. Clement, No. A-6323-03 (App. Div. Apr. 29, 2005), but the Supreme Court remanded for reconsideration of the sentence pursuant to State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005). State v. Clement, 185 N.J. 292 (2005). Judge Chaiet re-imposed the same sentence on remand on November 18, 2005.

On March 15, 2006, defendant filed her first PCR petition, which Judge Chaiet denied for reasons he stated in an oral opinion on February 16, 2007. Defendant appealed, raising the following issues:

I. THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BECAUSE DEFENDANT'S PLEA WAS NOT KNOWING AND VOLUNTARY DUE TO THE TRIAL JUDGE'S IMPROPER COMMENTS DURING THE PLEA COLLOQUY.

II. THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BECAUSE DEFENDANT ESTABLISHED THAT HER TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE IN FAILING TO PROPERLY ADVISE HER DURING PLEA NEGOTIATIONS.

III. THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BECAUSE THE TRIAL JUDGE FAILED TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY AS TO WHETHER A CONFLICT OF INTEREST EXISTED AT THE TIME DEFENDANT MOVED TO WITHDRAW HER GUILTY PLEA.

In our opinion affirming Judge Chaiet's decision denying defendant's first PCR petition, we addressed her appellate issues in some detail, and we found them all to be without merit. State v. Clement, No. A-4829-06 (App. Div. May 15, 2008), certif. denied, 198 N.J. 315 (2009).

Defendant then filed a second PCR petition, dated May 6, 2009. By order dated September 15, 2009, Judge Ira E. Kreizman dismissed that petition because defendant failed to file a brief in support of the petition. On January 21, 2010, defendant moved for reconsideration and also moved, once again, to withdraw her guilty plea. In an oral opinion issued on June 18, 2010, Judge Kreizman denied the motion as untimely, pursuant to Rules 1:7-4(b) and 4:49-2. He also found that defendant's arguments were barred by Rules 3:22-4 and 3:22-5 (issues that were raised or could have been raised on ...


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