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Tompkins v. Lagana

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 6, 2014

MARK TOMPKINS, Petitioner,
v.
PAUL LAGANA, et. al., Respondents.

MARK TOMPKINS, Pro Se Petitioner, Newark, New Jersey.

LUCILLE M. ROSANO, ESQ., ESSEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, Newark, New Jersey. Counsel for Respondents.

OPINION

SUSAN D. WIGENTON, District Judge.

Petitioner Mark Tompkins challenges his 2004 New Jersey state court conviction in this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons discussed below, the petition will be denied for lack of merit.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

On March 11, 2003, Mr. Tompkins was indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury, under Indictment No. 03-03-0893, on the charge of second-degree eluding in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2b. (ECF No. 1-1, Petitioner's Memorandum of Law at 3.) Mr. Tompkins was tried before the Honorable Martin G. Cronin, J.S.C., and a jury on September 14 and 16, 2004, with the jury returning a guilty verdict on September 16, 2004. ( Id. ) Judge Cronin sentenced Mr. Tompkins to a 15-year prison term with 7½ years parole ineligibility. ( Id. )

Thereafter, Mr. Tompkins filed a direct appeal from his conviction and sentence before the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. On December 8, 2006, the Appellate Division affirmed the conviction and remanded the matter for resentencing in light of State v. Pierce, 188 N.J. 155 (2006). ( Id. ) On February 23, 2007, the Supreme Court of New Jersey denied certification. State v. Tompkins, 189 N.J. 649 (2007). On March 15, 2007, Mr. Tompkins was resentenced to 15 years in prison with 7½ years parole ineligibility. (ECF No. 1-1, Pet. Mem. of Law at 3.)

On November 26, 2007, Mr. Tompkins filed a petition for post-conviction relief ("PCR") in state court. Following a hearing and oral argument, Judge Cronin denied the PCR petition on October 20, 2008, and Petitioner appealed. On March 4, 2011, the Appellate Division affirmed Judge Cronin's decision. ( Id. ) The Supreme Court of New Jersey denied certification. State v. Tompkins, 208 N.J. 338 (2011).

On September 13, 2010, while his state PCR petition was on appeal, Mr. Tompkins filed a pro se motion to amend the judgment of conviction to correct a clerical error that noted the judgment had been entered by guilty plea. Then, on October 28, 2010, Mr. Tompkins filed a pro se motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence, namely, that the eluding charge for which he had been convicted was previously dismissed in municipal court. (ECF No. 1-1, Pet. Mem. of Law at 4.) On February 14, 2011, both motions were heard by the Honorable Robert H. Gardner, J.S.C. On that same date, Judge Gardner denied the motion for a new trial, and granted the motion to amend the judgment of conviction to reflect adjudication by jury trial rather than by guilty plea. ( Id. )

Mr. Tompkins appealed from the decision denying his motion for a new trial. The Appellate Division affirmed Judge Gardner's ruling on July 16, 2012. The Supreme Court of New Jersey denied certification on January 31, 2013. ( Id. )

On April 15, 2013, Mr. Tompkins filed this § 2254 habeas petition asserting only one claim, namely, that Petitioner is entitled to habeas relief because he was tried and convicted on a charge that had been dismissed previously, in violation of the prohibition against double jeopardy. (ECF No. 1; ECF No. 1-1, Pet. Mem. of Law at 5.)

Respondents filed an answer to the petition with the relevant state court record on September 6, 2013, arguing that the petition lacks merit and fails to state a claim for relief. (ECF No. 13.) On September 17, 2013, Mr. Tompkins filed a reply objecting to Respondents' answer. (ECF No. 14.)

On December 18, 2013, Mr. Tompkins filed a motion to compel discovery, (ECF No. 15), to which Respondents filed an opposition on December 23, 2013. (ECF No. 16.) Petitioner filed a reply on January 6, 2014. (ECF No. 17.)

On March 31, 2014, Mr. Tompkins filed a letter request to stay the proceedings in this habeas action pending review of a state court motion "to correct the record to reflect the actual court of dismissal." (ECF No. 19.) Respondents filed an opposition to this motion on April 3, 2014. ...


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