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State of New Jersey v. Pontell C. Bryant

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


December 17, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PONTELL C. BRYANT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 03-08-1087.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 4, 2012

Before Judges Reisner and Yannotti.

Defendant Pontell C. Bryant appeals from an April 28, 2010 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

In 2006, a jury convicted defendant of second-degree possession with intent to distribute on public property, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1, and other related offenses. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of seven years in prison, half to be served without parole. The evidence supporting the conviction was straightforward. A police officer attempted to detain defendant based on an outstanding warrant. He fled. The police tackled him and found nine bags of crack cocaine on the ground underneath his body. We affirmed defendant's conviction on direct appeal. State v. Bryant, No. A-1133-06 (App. Div. Aug. 13, 2008), certif. denied, 199 N.J. 544 (2009).

Defendant filed his PCR petition in 2009. After hearing oral argument on April 23, 2010, Judge Jeanne T. Covert denied the petition for reasons stated in a thirteen-page written opinion dated April 28, 2010. She found that many of defendant's PCR claims were barred by Rule 3:22-4, because they could have been raised on direct appeal. She also rejected his claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, which were based on counsel's failure to object to jury instructions, entering into a stipulation at trial, failing to file a speedy trial motion, and failure to raise those issues on direct appeal. The judge further found that defendant's remaining arguments were either rejected on direct appeal or were without merit.

On this appeal, defendant has only pursued the claim that his trial counsel should have filed a speedy trial motion. Judge Covert addressed that issue at length in her cogent opinion, applying the principles set forth in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S. Ct. 2182, 33 L. Ed. 2d 101 (1972), and State v. Szima, 70 N.J. 196, cert. denied, 429 U.S. 896, 97 S. Ct. 259, 50 L. Ed. 2d 180 (1976). She found that the almost three-year delay in bringing defendant to trial weighed slightly in his favor, but that most of the delay was due to defendant's sixteen other arrests, and his several other trials, which occurred during that time. She also considered that he spent only four days in jail pre-trial on this charge and he failed to demonstrate that the trial delay prejudiced his defense.

We conclude that Judge Covert correctly analyzed this issue and reached the correct result. Because defendant failed to present a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of counsel, no evidentiary hearing was required on his PCR petition. See State v. Preciose, 129 N.J. 451, 462 (1992). Defendant's appellate contentions do not warrant further discussion here. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). We affirm for the reasons stated by Judge Covert.

Affirmed.

20121217

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