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NJ CDS Conviction Reversed on PCR for Attorney’s Error

10
Jun
2010

by in Criminal Appeals

State v. Roger Fuller, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-2393-09T4 (May 18, 2010) – Order granting PCR affirmed. “At a minimum, a trial attorney must be assured that questions he will be asking his client are not misunderstood or that language incorporated in a question is not imprecise that even the most sophisticated and experienced witness would fail to comprehend the import or implications of a particular question.

Here, counsel’s inquiry as to whether defendant was ‘ever’ a drug dealer covered the spectrum of whether defendant had, at any time, been accused of or been convicted of drug dealing. Defendant clearly considered within the scope of the question the fact that he had been accused of being a drug dealer as a juvenile, and he responded in kind. Adequate preparation, a hallmark of effective counsel, was lacking…. The State claims that counsel’s strategy was sound given the information that was available to him upon review of defendant’s criminal history and the absence of any juvenile record.

While that may be true to a point, it is a sine qua non of effective and appropriate trial preparation for counsel to review such history with defendant, prior to trial, to both verify the information as well as ascertain whether the history was accurate as reported.”

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