Oral Argument Is Favored in Post-Conviction Relief Petitions
- June 1, 2015
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Isaiah Kinney was charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit murder (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3); second-degree aggravated assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1)); first-degree attempted murder (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3); fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d)); and third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and convicted of second-degree aggravated assault and second-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1)) after a trial in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County. Kinney was sentenced to a discretionary extended 20 year period of incarceration with an 85% parole ineligibility period under the No Early Release Act (NERA) (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2). Kinney and Jones severely beat Floyd Simmons at a residence on Prospect Street in East Orange. After leaving the residence, Jones committed a minor driving infraction and crashed while fleeing an East Orange Police officer who noticed that, although Jones appeared not to be injured from the crash, her pants were covered in blood. Prior to Jones being chased by the officer, Kinney had exited the vehicle at a residence on Washington Terrace. Based on statements made by Jones to police, officers proceeded to the Washington Terrace residence to arrest Kinney. While at the residence without a warrant, officers discovered bloodstained clothing belonging to Kinney. At the trial level, Kinney filed a motion to suppress the evidence based on the officers’ illegal search and seizure but the suppression motion was denied. In State v. Isaiah Kinney, the Defendant appealed unsuccessfully then sought post-conviction relief (PCR) based on ineffective assistance of assistance of counsel. The record on the Appellate level was noticeably devoid of any reference to the illegal search and seizure. The NJ Appellate Division found that oral argument in a post-conviction relief petition wherein the defendant exercises a last opportunity to raise reliability issues is deserving of oral argument although the determination of whether oral argument will be heard rests within the discretion of the PCR court. State v. Mayron, 344 N.J. Super. 382, 386 (App. Div. 2001). In State v. Parker, 212 N.J. 269, 282 (2012), the N.J. Supreme Court reinforced the factors set forth in Mayron and included that PCR judges should provide a statement of reasons for denying oral argument. The Appellate Division hearing the PCR matter determined that oral argument could have resolved uncertainty with regard to the absence of pursuit of the suppression motion but the PCR judge incorrectly held that, under State v. Moore, 273 N.J. Super. 118, 126 (App. Div. 1994), the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel with regard to the suppression motion could only be raised in Kinney’s petition to the Supreme Court. The Appellate Division reasoned that, as there is no right to review by the Supreme Court, the PCR judge’s ruling on this matter deprived the defendant of his right to a determination on the issue. It was further determined that the lack of any record established by oral argument pertaining to the suppression motion rendered them unable to give adequate review to the PCR petition and the Appellate Division remanded the matter with direction that the matters of the suppression motion and ineffective assistance of counsel be reviewed. If you are faced with aggravated assault charges, you are facing up to 10 years in prison with an 85% parole ineligibility period under NERA. Even simple assault charges can result in incarceration and should not be taken lightly by you as they will certainly not be taken lightly by the court. If you are charged with assault you should obtain experienced defense counsel immediately. For more information about assault, aggravated assault, conspiracy, murder, unlawful possession of a weapon or other serious criminal charges in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.