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App. Div. Holds Counsel Was Ineffective on PCR


by in Criminal Appeals

State v. Jamal Muhammad, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-3219-06T4 (March 31, 2010) – Denial of PCR reversed, case remanded for new hearing. “Defendant appeals, contending that he was constructively denied his right to counsel at his PCR hearing because PCR counsel did not consult with him, failed to raise the issues he requested, and submitted a brief so deficient that PCR counsel appeared to be arguing the facts of a case other than his case.

For example, PCR counsel wrote in the brief that ‘[n]o statements were collected from the victims, there were no interviews conducted of people who witnessed the alleged crime, and there were [no] statements taken from the victim indicating that she was not injured from the actions of [defendant].’

However, there was only one victim in this case, the victim was a male, and he died as a result of the incident. PCR counsel also raised issues not supported by the record, i.e., that defendant should have received rehabilitation, rather than prison, for a murder conviction…. We conclude that PCR counsel violated Rule 3:22-6(d) by failing to present all of defendant’s PCR petition claims, and by filing a deficient brief. Accordingly, this matter must be remanded for a new PCR hearing.”






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