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State of New Jersey v. Eugene Sparrow

November 29, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
EUGENE SPARROW, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. 03-05-1841.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 14, 2012

Before Judges Fisher and Waugh.

Defendant Eugene Sparrow appeals the Law Division's December 2, 2010 order dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

I.

We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.

In May 2003, Sparrow was indicted and charged with the following offenses: second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); two counts of first-degree robbery, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts two and three); third-degree possession of a handgun without a permit, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count four); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count five); and fourth-degree resisting arrest, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(a) (count eight).

In July 2003, Sparrow entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy, both counts of robbery, and possession of a handgun without a permit. As part of the plea agreement, the State agreed to dismiss the other charges and to recommend a ten-year term subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The trial judge accepted the plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for September.

Because Sparrow advised the judge on the scheduled sentencing date that he wished to withdraw his guilty plea, the judge adjourned the sentencing so that defense counsel could obtain and review a transcript of the plea hearing. On the adjourned sentencing date, defense counsel advised the judge that Sparrow still wanted to withdraw his guilty plea. Nevertheless, counsel articulated his view that there was no basis in fact for the relief sought by his client.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: [The transcript] does not appear to me, in the body of the transcript, that there's anything in there that would suggest a basis in the transcript itself for the plea to be taken back.

However, speaking with [Sparrow], today, he's indicated, to me, he wants to take his plea back. And his contention is that I misled him, even though our discussions obviously do not reflect itself in the body of the plea transcript. And his position is, because he claims I misled him, that he was deprived effective representa-tion of [c]counsel.

Judge, when a client tells me that it's his view that I improperly represented him, as an [o]fficer of the [c]court, I believe it's my obligation to make an ...


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