September 23, 2013
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
PONTELL C. BRYANT, Defendant-Appellant
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 16, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 03-05-713.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Michael Confusione, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Robert D. Bernardi, Burlington County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Jennifer B. Paszkiewicz, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Harris and Guadagno.
Defendant Pontell C. Bryant appeals from the Law Division's May 27, 2011 order denying his application for post-conviction relief (PCR). On appeal, Bryant presents the following outline for our consideration:
POINT I: THE COURT SHOULD REVERSE THE DENIAL OF DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF AND REMAND THIS MATTER FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON DEFENDANT'S CLAIMS.
1. DEFENDANT ESTABLISHED AT LEAST PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.
2. AT THE VERY LEAST, DEFENDANT'S INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE CLAIMS WARRANTED AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING IN THE COURT BELOW.
After reviewing the record, we affirm substantially for the reasons stated in Judge Michael J. Haas's written opinion of May 27, 2011. We add only the following brief comments.
Bryant was convicted by a jury of second-degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b) (count one), and obstructing administration of the law, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1(a) (count two). After merger, he was sentenced to an aggregate term of eight years imprisonment.
On direct appeal, we affirmed the conviction and sentence. State v. Bryant, No. A-5367-07 (App. Div. Oct. 30, 2009). The Supreme Court denied further review. State v. Bryant, 203 N.J. 92 (2010).
In this application for PCR, Bryant claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial because his attorney (1) failed to challenge the admission of other crimes evidence and ensure that sufficient limiting instructions were provided to the jury; (2) failed to assert his right to a speedy trial; (3) failed to properly address and contest identification issues with the witnesses and to properly interview the identification witnesses prior to trial; and (4) failed to ensure that correct and sufficient jury charges were given by the trial court, failed to request appropriate lesser offense charges, and failed to object to hearsay testimony offered by the State.
Our canvass of the record reveals that Judge Haas addressed these, and other, issues in the Law Division. The judge's analysis was comprehensive and correct. We discern no basis to disturb the findings and conclusions contained in Judge Haas's twenty-one page opinion.