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State v. Tate

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

May 28, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOHN TATE, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued January 24, 2013.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Indictment No. 04-10-1332.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Michael Pastacaldi, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Fredric M. Knapp, Acting Morris County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Erin Smith Wisloff, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).

Appellant filed a pro se supplemental brief.

Before Judges Hayden and Lisa.

PER CURIAM.

Defendant John Tate appeals from the October 25, 2010 Law Division order denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The record reveals that a grand jury indicted defendant on October 15, 2003 for first-degree aggravated sexual assault of a minor between ages thirteen and sixteen, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a(2)(c); second-degree endangering the welfare of children, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a; and third-degree aggravated sexual contact, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3a. The charges were based on allegations that defendant engaged in sexual acts between September 1 and November 30, 1999, with his thirteen-year-old foster son.

Defendant pled guilty before Judge Thomas V. Manahan to an amended charge of child neglect, N.J.S.A. 9:6-3, on June 4, 2009. While defendant said he would like more time to consider the plea, he agreed that he wanted to make the plea that day, based upon a reasoned approach to his options. He told the judge he had understood, accepted and agreed to the plea arrangement worked out between him and the State. Defendant acknowledged that he had read the plea form and declined the judge's offer to review it, because he understood its terms. He had no questions for the judge concerning the agreement.

During the plea allocution, defendant acknowledged that between September 1, 1999 and November 30, 1999, he was the foster father of a thirteen-year-old boy and that he cursed and used off-color language in the child's presence in such a way as to debauch the child's morals. Noting that defendant was an intelligent and thoughtful person with some paralegal experience, the judge accepted his plea, stating

I am satisfied that Mr. Tate has entered into this plea knowingly and voluntarily. This Court bases its finding on his testimony here this afternoon and the Court's opportunity to observe his demeanor during the testimony and . . . upon the contents of the plea which he signed to acknowledge that he understood it.

On August 26, 2010, prior to his sentencing, defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. He raised the following arguments in his motion:

POINT I: MR. TATE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO WITHDRAW HIS GUILTY PLEA AS THERE WAS PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT AS COMPLETE DISCOVERY ...

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