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State v. Baldwin

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 31, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ALMUSTAFA BALDWIN, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 23, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 03-06-0834.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Glenn D. Kassman, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Andrew C. Carey, Acting Middlesex County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Joie Piderit, Special Deputy Attorney General/ Acting Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Simonelli and Haas.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Almustafa Baldwin appeals from the March 19, 2012 Law Division order, which denied his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

Defendant was charged in a twelve-count Middlesex County indictment with five counts of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts one, two, six, seven, and eight); five counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (counts three, four, nine, ten, and eleven); and two counts of third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b (counts five and twelve). On May 23, 2005, defendant pled guilty to two counts of first-degree robbery (counts one and six). Pursuant to the negotiated plea agreement, the State recommended an eighteen-year sentence, subject to the eighty-five percent parole ineligibility provisions of the No Early Release Act ("NERA"), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The sentences would run concurrent to each other and to the sentences defendant was already serving in Essex, Bergen, and Union Counties on other charges, and to the sentences he faced in Somerset County on numerous other matters.[1]

On February 17, 2006, the trial judge sentenced defendant to an aggregate eighteen-year term on counts one and six, subject to NERA, with a five-year period of parole supervision. The sentence was concurrent to the sentences that had already been imposed in the other counties, with the further understanding that the sentence to be imposed in Somerset County would run concurrent to the Middlesex County sentence.[2] The remaining Middlesex County charges were dismissed.

Defendant did not file a direct appeal from his conviction and sentence. However, he subsequently filed a PCR petition contending, among other things, [3] that his counsel was ineffective because he did not advise him that he would be required to serve a five-year period of parole supervision after the completion of his custodial sentence. In addition, he pointed out that the trial judge did not mention the parole requirement at the time of the plea.

In a thorough March 1, 2012 oral opinion, Judge Rockoff denied the petition, concluding that defendant failed to satisfy the second prong of the Strickland test. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2064, 2068, 80 L.Ed.2d 674, 693, 698 (1984). The judge found that defendant was aware at the time of sentencing that he would have a five-year period of parole supervision after completing his custodial term. Moreover, even assuming that defendant satisfied the first prong of the Strickland test, the judge concluded that defendant had suffered no prejudice from the alleged error. This appeal followed.

On appeal, defendant raises the ...


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