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State of New Jersey v. Thomahl Cook

December 7, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
THOMAHL COOK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 98-11-1562.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 14, 2012

Before Judges Reisner and Harris.

Defendant Thomahl Cook appeals from the September 10, 2010 order denying his application for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

I.

A.

In February 2000, Cook was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2). Two months later, Cook was sentenced to a term of sixty years imprisonment, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

Cook appealed. We affirmed the conviction, vacated the NERA sentence, and remanded for resentencing. State v. Cook, No. A-5166-99 (App. Div. Oct. 23, 2002) (Cook I). The Supreme Court affirmed. State v. Cook, 179 N.J. 533 (2004).

On remand, the Law Division imposed a sixty-year term with a mandatory thirty-year period of parole ineligibility. We affirmed the sentence, State v. Cook, No. A-3510-02 (App. Div. Aug. 31, 2005) (Cook II), and the Supreme Court denied further review. State v. Cook, 185 N.J. 392 (2005).

In his Law Division application for PCR, Cook argued sixteen discrete points, which focused mainly upon multiple instances of alleged ineffective assistance of counsel. After oral argument, but without conducting an evidentiary hearing, the PCR court rendered an oral decision that addressed every argument raised by Cook. An order memorializing the denial of PCR was issued on September 10, 2010, and this appeal followed.

B.

On appeal, Cook presents the following arguments for our consideration:

POINT I: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF WITHOUT AFFORDING HIM AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING TO FULLY ADDRESS HIS CONTENTION THAT HE FAILED TO RECEIVE ADEQUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION AT THE TRIAL LEVEL.

A. THE PREVAILING LEGAL PRINCIPLES REGARDING CLAIMS OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, EVIDENTIARY HEARINGS AND ...


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