NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 18, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 03-12-01552.
Jason Harrell, appellant pro se.
Andrew C. Carey, Acting Middlesex County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Brian D. Gillet, Special Deputy Attorney General, Acting Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Parrillo and Harris.
Defendant Jason Harrell appeals from the Law Division's June 8, 2012 order dismissing Harrell's second application for post-conviction relief (PCR) because of the procedural bar found in Rule 3:22-4(b). We reverse and remand for further proceedings.
Harrell was convicted by a jury of aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4(a), and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a). On July 30, 2004, after merger, Harrell was sentenced to a term of thirty years imprisonment.
We affirmed the conviction, but remanded for reconsideration of the thirty-year term in light of State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005), which was decided after the original sentencing. State v. Harrell (Harrell I), A-1090-04T4 (App. Div. Nov. 2, 2006). The Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Harrell, 192 N.J. 480 (2007). On remand, the Law Division imposed the same sentence.
In November 2007, before the resentencing, Harrell filed a pro se first application for PCR, claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Designated PCR counsel submitted a brief on Harrell's behalf, and argued several species of defense counsel's deficiencies. The same judge who presided at Harrell's trial denied PCR on July 17, 2008, and later denied a pro se motion for reconsideration.
We affirmed both determinations. State v. Harrell (Harrell II), A-0340-08 (App. Div. Nov. 15, 2010) (Harrell II). The Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Harrell, 205 N.J. 318 (2011).
Harrell filed the present pro se application for PCR on or about October 14, 2011. In that application, Harrell sought the appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing; he claimed, again, that trial and PCR counsel were ineffective; and he further contended that PCR appellate counsel was also ineffective. In support of the latter contention, Harrell obliquely stated, "the defendant was denied his right to effective assistance of . . . PCR appellate counsel who failed to fulfill his obligation to ...