NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: December 11, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 91-03-0489.
Jeffrey Lynch, appellant pro se.
Camelia M. Valdes, Passaic County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Christopher W. Hsieh, Chief Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Fuentes, Fasciale and Haas.
Defendant Jeffrey Lynch appeals from the May 7, 2012 Law Division order, which denied his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) following an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.
In 1999, a jury convicted defendant of two counts of aggravated sexual assault, five counts of sexual assault, and seven counts of endangering the welfare of a child. The trial court sentenced defendant to an aggregate twenty-five-year prison term.
Defendant appealed his convictions and sentence. We affirmed, and our Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Lynch, No. A-6463-98 (App. Div. December 13, 2001) (Lynch I), certif. denied, 171 N.J. 445 (2002).
In June 2003, defendant filed a PCR petition arguing, in part, that his trial attorneys, Harold Ruvoldt, Esq. and Cathy Fleming, Esq.,  were ineffective because they "failed to present relevant evidence of diminished capacity." The judge conducted an evidentiary hearing. Ruvoldt testified that he considered presenting expert testimony concerning defendant's mental state at the time of the crimes. Ruvoldt discussed the issue with Dr. Frances Howland, a psychiatrist who had treated defendant and diagnosed him with multiple personality disorder. From these discussions, Ruvoldt learned that Dr. Howland would not support defendant's diminished capacity claim. Thus, as a matter of trial strategy, he consulted with defendant and decided not to pursue this defense.
Ruvoldt's testimony was corroborated by Fleming. She testified that the defense team "considered and discussed whether we could have psychiatric testimony that would be helpful pertaining to mens rea or the ability to understand what [defendant] was doing at the time of these acts." However, after reviewing the available information from the psychiatrists, Fleming testified that her "very strong impression and conclusion was there was no way we were going to be able to put on an appropriate psychological defense." Finding that the decision of the defendant's attorneys was based upon a "sound trial strategy, " the judge denied defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on this point.
Defendant filed an appeal from the denial of his PCR petition and we affirmed. State v. Lynch, No. A-1891-06 (App. Div. June 18, 2009) (Lynch II). We rejected defendant's argument that his trial team was ineffective because it did not call psychiatrists in support of a diminished capacity defense, stating:
Defendant first contends that trial counsel's failure to present evidence of diminished capacity as a defense at trial deprived him of effective assistance of counsel. He claims that the pre-trial testimony of Dr. Francis Howland and Dr. Crain during his competency hearings established that he suffered from multiple personality disorder. In addressing this argument, Harold Ruvoldt, one of defendant's attorneys, testified at the PCR hearing that although defendant had initially been found incompetent to stand trial, there was "no psychiatric support for incompetence at the time of the act" to support a diminished capacity defense. Ruvoldt also noted that "the use of a psychiatric defense without the benefit of any expert testimony ...